It’s been over eight years since I’ve taken a boat through a lock on the Trent-Severn Waterway. That might not seem like a big deal for most Ontario boaters. With over 250,000 lakes to choose from in our province, I can't possibly visit them all, but transiting Lock 32 in Bobcaygeon was a regular experience. I used to live on Pigeon Lake, so the Kawartha Lakes section of the Trent-Severn was home.
In my early boating years, I participated in a couple of houseboat trips on different sections of this popular waterway, or so I have been told. I was only four. My memories of those adventures are fuzzy, but I expect I had fun.
One thing is for certain, I am long overdue for an encore.
Happy Days Houseboats has set us up with their 56-foot luxury model. They describe it as the largest and most luxurious houseboat available for rent in the Kawarthas. That’s quite an accomplishment. The Kawartha Lakes are the hotspot for houseboat rentals in Ontario.
Our itinerary includes the shops and restaurants of downtown Bobcaygeon, the scenic Fenelon Falls, the famous lift-lock in Kirkfield and Canada's freshwater summit, the highest point of water in Canada from where you can circumnavigate the globe without touching land.
Sounds like fun already, and it’s still a week away. Despite a slightly delayed start to the season on the Trent Severn waterway, 2017 is going to be an exciting year. I for one can’t think of a better way to celebrate the 150th birthday of our great country than by taking in the natural beauty and small town charm of the Kawartha Lakes region from the deck of a houseboat.
And now, here's how the trip went...
We Found the Best Way to Explore the Kawartha Lakes
Stepping aboard our houseboat ‘Happiness’ caused me to immediately re-evaluate my understanding of the word houseboat. In all honesty, I was expecting a camp boat. Four plywood walls, basic furnishings, and limited conveniences. Not so.
Happy Days calls these models ‘Luxury’ for a reason. It was apparent as soon as we entered the cabin this was going to be a comfortable trip. This was the perfect boat for a family with kids.
We had six people on a boat that easily sleeps 12. It was spacious. Whirlpool appliances, including a dishwasher, a complete high-definition home entertainment system with surround sound and a ceiling fan.
After a thorough ground school class from Happy Days owner Jill Quast, which covered all the basic navigation and safety considerations for our vessel, we got a hands-on lesson in docking and manoeuvring from her partner Frank, as well as detailed instruction on operating the boat's mechanical and electrical systems.
Houseboats are designed and built for inexperienced boaters and the crew at Happy Days will make sure you have a firm handle on the boat before you depart for your journey.
Our first lock was in Bobcaygeon, "the hub of the Kawarthas." It’s one of the busiest locks on the system, but traffic was light this time of year. We were hoping to have time to visit Bigley's shoe store, a veritable institution in Bobcaygeon, but we departed late from the marina and had to make up time. We also missed out on lunch a the Lock 32 Pub, my favourite restaurant in town.
We motored into Sturgeon Lake with plans to overnight on the lower side of the lock in Fenelon Falls. We tied up three hours later and had the entirety of the area to ourselves. We picked a spot with the best view of the falls and fired up the barbecue on the foredeck.