Cruising to a 100th Birthday Party
by Chris Bullen
We were fortunate enough to go for a 3-day cruise
this year. With the Rascal
being such a small boat we proceeded with a little hesitation
but found it was uncalled for and was a successful event. The
trip started Wednesday July 7. We met at the Port of Call Marina
in Bolsover. The reason for the trip was to join in the celebrations
for the lift locks 100th
anniversary. This was set for Friday, and Saturday
was a boat show on Little Lake in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.
the launch ramp in Bolsover
(click images for larger versions)
The day started with heavy rain and the drive
to Bolsover from Muskoka was very wet, the thought of, what
do we do now was crossing our minds. We have 13 boats and 37
people in mostly open cockpit runabouts ready to embark on a
3 day trip. Heavy rain is not an option. Patrick, one of the
event organizers of the trip is a minister, I say this because
as we arrived at the launch ramp the rain had all gone. He has
some good connections. The forecast called for a chance of thunderstorms
later in the day but we had none of that. The launching of the
vessels was carried out without incident and the owner of the
marina was kind enough to donate the ramp fees to charity.
Once all the boats were fueled up, off we went.
Our journey started on the Talbot River heading east to the
Canal Lake. We pass by 2 swing bridges on Talbot river and then
into Canal lake. We reached the historic road bridge (built
in 1905) half way up Canal Lake. We looked back and there were
no other boats. We called back (those cell phones do come in
handy) and found one of the boats was not pumping water. After
a few calls to Ed back in Muskoka and with the help of others
on the trip, the water stated to flow and the rest of the boats
were on there way.
built in 1905
We started back up Canal Lake. Canal Lake was
formed in 1896 with the flooding of Grass Creek. This lake is
very shallow, boats with a 5ft draft will touch in spots. There
is a buoyed channel for boats to travel its length, the lake
is 4.8miles long and it’s a straight run. We traveled
back into the Talbot River and to the Kirkfield lift lock. This
is the first lock in our journey and is the sister to the Peterborough
lift lock. The lock lifts us up 49ft. This is the highest point
in the Trent Severn system, consequently the red and green buoys
now switch sides. The lock is located less then 2 miles from
the town of Kirkfield.
Julie and I and Sam's
Smile entering Peterborough liftlock
Kirkfield is on the farm land were Sir William
Mackenzie was born in 1849. Mackenzie later became a lumber
baron and was instrumental in founding the Canadian northern
railway, known today as the Canadian National Railway. His house,
built in 1888, is now the Sir William Mackenzie Inn.
After you leave the Lock, you’re in a canal
cut out of the limestone. This narrow passage is only 10km/hr.
For 6 miles you wind through Mitchell Lake and the gull river
to another cut canal. The slow travel allows you to take in
the scenery. As you get in to Balsam lake you can push the throttles
forward and scoot south around Grand Island then veer north
to Rosedale. Here you hit lock 35, it’s a small lock the
drop is a short 4ft. There is a short stretch of canal then
you’re in Cameron Lake. We crossed Cameron Lake behind
some very large cruisers. Those of us who had had their share
of 10km travel passed the cruiser and the spray was large and
the clothes were damp but what fun. Cameron Lake was our resting
spot for the night. We crossed the lake to Fenelon falls.
Friday morning rain
We left all the boats at the Fenelon falls marina
and stayed over night at the Fenelon Falls Inn. After walking
the downtown area and doing a little window shopping, it was
time for the captain’s 3hr cruise. This was the longest
of the trip. From here we took a bus back to Bolsover then drove
our cars and trailers to Peterborough. The bus then took us
back to Fenelon Falls. Fortunately on our return to the Inn
we had a great dinner with all our friends and the bus trip
The cuisine at the Inn is East Indian. They served
this fare as hot or as mild as you like. I had it mild and had
a great dinner. Unfortunately the little Inn was a bit overwhelmed
with all of us and a few mild eaters got something with a little
kick. There was a little sweating from foreheads as the timid
got a little spice in their life. There were also a few that
like it hot but even they were surprised at the heat and were
having a little trouble. This was great fun to watch for most
of us and added an extra bit of entrainment to the meal.
The following morning we wiped down the seats
from the rain over night and headed to the Fenelon Falls lock.
This is a large lock with a big drop of 24’. From here
you travel the Fenelon River to Sturgeon Lake. At this point
in our trip we were riding in a 1937 Billie Johnston, the lake
was rough and blowing to our starboard, we were getting soaked.
The water was breaking on the side of the boat and buckets of
water rained down on us. Thanks to the threat of rain we had
umbrellas to save us from the morning bath. The Billie Johnston
was zipping along at a mighty 10mph.
Julie taking a break from
We finally made the turn east at Sturgeon point
and headed with the wind behind us. The ride became much drier.
Sturgeon Lake has no fish in it in spite of it's name and the
reason is a mystery. At the End of Sturgeon lake is Bobcaygeon
and Lock 32. With a drop of 6’ this was a quick lock and
we were off down Big Bob Channel to Pigeon Lake. Traveling south
through Pigeon Lake we got the first rays of sun on our trip.
Pigeon Lake takes us to the Gannon Narrows and into Buckhorn
Lake. Buckhorn takes us north east for 10 miles past the first
nation reserve Fox Island and up to lock 31 in the town of Buckhorn.
Here we stopped for lunch on the patio, in the
sun! This was a great spot to eat and watch the boater pass
by. Lock 31 is an 11’ drop. Leaving this lock you pass
east through lower Buckhorn Lake and Lovesick Lake, and nice
ride with the shoreline close at hand. At the bottom of Lovesick
Lake is Burleigh Falls and Lock 28? We did not miss any locks
as this used to be a few locks and was changed to one big one
in 1968. The lock here is a big 24’ drop.
This was the end of our trip for the day. Stoney
Lake was the home of the Burleigh Island Lodge and the stop
for the night. There are many places to stay on this lake and
is a popular boating and cottage area. In rained again through
the night and cocktails on the patio had us all huddled close
under the umbrellas.
The morning brought us more rain. We picked up
about 20 more boats at the first lock of the day. This lock
located at the south end of clear lake is lock 27. The lock
master was kind enough to start his day as we needed to get
to the Peterborough lift lock by 1:00pm. With all the boats
we squeezed in tight and were able to get all the boats through
in 2 lifts. The locks from 27 to 22 the lock before Peterbourgh
lock 21 are all hand operated and are as they were since they
were built almost 100 years ago. These locks range for 16ft
to 7 ft drop. The hardest part of the day was keeping the boats
from hitting in the locks.
squeezing into the locks
All the locks on this day were close together
and the speed was slow, this was the first day that the 1912
Mullins kept up with the group. We also had a dippy on this
leg of the trip. Unfortunately plagued with engine troubles,
it was towed to the end of the trip by Bill in his Coronado.
This leg of the trip takes you through Lake Katchewanooka to
Lakefield at lock 26 and on the Otonabee River to Peterborough.
dressed for a party
Lakefield is one of the first settlements in the
area settled in the early as the 1800’s. The town is rich
in history and still has many of its original homes. The next
area we pass is Trent University located between locks 22 and
23.the university is located on the Otonabee River were the
students take advantage of the location and practice rowing.
top of the Peterborough liftlock
We arrived in Peterborough in time and with a
large audience. We had a little wait then some pictures of the
moment we were down the lift. During our decent the T.V. show
host Ted Rankin was filming the event for his show Power Boat
Television. We all hope to catch that episode. Before you get
to little lake in Peterborough there is one more lock. Ashburnham
is also a hand operated lock, we dropped 12ft and our trip was
finished on Little Lake. The following day we were all in a
boat show to help with the weekend of celebration at the Lift
ready to leave
A great time was had by all on the trip. These
trips are a great excuse to use your classic boat. The new people
you meet with a common interest in boats are great fun to be
with. All in all a very successful trip.