July 19 to August 6
After transiting a flight of three locks to get to the lower basin at Jones Falls, we tied up along a wall at Hotel Kenny. This is a historic hotel, opened in 1877. For most of the 20th century it appears to have thrived as a fishing camp, with local guides taking guests out to catch big fish on nearby lakes. Sadly, it has not moved with the times. The motel style outbuildings are unlikely to offer the level of comfort expected at the prices charged, and all structures including the main hotel are clearly in need of major maintenance. The dining room was nearly empty, apart from diners from the boats that had tied up for the night, suggesting that there are few hotel guests even at peak season. It was all rather sad, especially as the location is beautiful and so much could be made of the site.
After 6 more locks we finished the Rideau Canal and arrived in Kingston. Dick and I went to Queen’s University there, and he enjoyed a long walk to the campus to see how much has changed. Kingston is a historic town occupying what was once a strategic location for defence of Upper Canada against those pesky Americans from the breakaway colonies! Originally a French trading post called Cataraqui, it was taken over by the British and renamed King’s Town after George III. The former French Fort Frontenac was partially reconstructed in 1783, and a colony was set up for displaced British colonists, or “Loyalists” who were fleeing north from the War of Independence. Fort Henry was built during the War of 1812 to protect the dockyards and the approach to the Rideau Canal. The dockyards are now the site of Royal Military College. Some of the cadets join the reinactment group of Fort Henry Guard, who staff Fort Henry during the summer months.
We enjoyed great pizza the first evening, and discovered when we were returning to the boat that there is a free country music concert for an hour each Wednesday evening. Unfortunately, the hour was almost done, so we listened to just one song before the musicians packed up and left. Pity, they sounded quite good! The next day we walked up Princess Street (pretty much unrecognizable after ahem, 40-some years) and tried a German restaurant. Dick enjoyed his meal, me, not so much.
From Kingston we set off towards Picton. We knew the forecast was for high winds, but Dick felt confident that we would be in waters protected by Wolfe and Amerst Islands for most of the trip. The first stretch of open water was pretty lumpy, but the second part needed some major maneuvering to deal with much higher waves than expected. As Dick wrestled with the wheel, we were surprised to be hailed on the radio. I staggered over to the radio and responded. It was a sailboat, who had just passed us. Intrigued by the sight of a power catamaran, they wanted to know who was the manufacturer of Nine Lives and what year was she. Compliments were paid, including “she handles the seas very well!” As Dick fought the wheel… A deteriorating weather forecast suggested that we should run all the way to Belleville instead of stopping at Picton as originally planned.
The next day we had to keep a close eye on the weather to find the one hour window we needed to get to Trenton. By 1pm the wind had settled a bit and changed direction enough that we headed out. Arrival in Trent Port Marina was made slightly more exciting by large numbers of small runabouts with fishermen, all of whom were maneuvering to get to the launch ramp across the river from the fuel/pumpout dock! I keep saying Trenton, but the town that Dick was born in has become Quinte West after some geographical redistribution and combination with two other towns. It seems to have been a worthwhile change for Trenton, in addition to a superb marina, there is a large City Hall and library building, and many areas of town that were derelict seem to have been cleaned up. There is still a shortage of good shops in the downtown area, but we enjoyed shopping at the European deli, stocking up on various Dutch and English imported foods and treats.
I hung up my galley slave apron, and tucked away the fender maid gloves to get on a flight home for a week. I enjoyed the chance to just be by myself, as well as bridge, lunch and dinners with friends, and lots of time with my boy Tucker. I also took care of the major issues caused by my website host, so my emails are “clean” again. Dick spent much of the week with his Mum, going on drives and scouting the various locations on the Trent Severn Waterway that are our next destinations. He had a two page list of jobs to be done on the boat as well, and some of those were even crossed off!
Eventually the break was over and we set off up the Trent River towards Frankford. First, we stopped for fuel and a pump-out. This was our first time to fuel since the Hudson River, and we were expecting to take on about 400 gallons of diesel. Unfortunately, the marina ran out after only 250! We will be able to get to Georgian Bay easily on that, but we felt sorry for any boaters behind us who were planning to fill up!
The Trent Severn Waterway is a 240 mile long series of canals and connected rivers and lakes joining Lake Ontario with Georgian Bay. The first lock was built in 1833, but it took years of broken promises and political infighting until 1915 before the entire route was completed. There are two particularly noteworthy features along the route, but we will be passing them next week, so I will be telling you all about those in the next update! There are 44 locks, 39 swing bridges, and 160 dams along the route that that manage the water levels for flood control and navigation on lakes and rivers in a large area of southern Ontario. The Waterway passes through “cottage country”, the summer destination for a great many city dwellers. Dick learned to swim in the Trent River, and his grandparents farmed land adjacent to the river. Today many of the farms have been abandoned and the land is going back to woods.
A feature of much of the waterway is free docking at lock walls and town walls for overnights. We stopped first at Frankford, still technically part of Quinte West, and only 6 miles from Trenton, but 6 locks were enough on a hot day. Dick grilled steaks and baked potatoes and we cooked fresh corn on the cob for one of our best meals on board. The new grill is proving to be a great success, compared to the strange one that came with the boat. We are also pleased with the purchase of an induction burner, that we can plug in beside the grill and keep the heat and steam from cooking outside the galley.
As we approached the first lock the next morning we were delighted to find Dick’s brother Ed waiting to join us for the day’s travel. He was immediately directed to the stern line, to be his sole charge for the rest of the day as we went through the next 6 locks to Campbellford. All that work required a suitable beverage after we tied up, and we were joined by Ed’s son Brent for libations and a few snacks. The extra crew certainly made for an easy and relaxing day!
Campbellford is a small town in the middle of farming country, with excellent town wall docking for visiting boats. We tied up on the west side, next to the park that features a 27 foot high statue of a toonie. What’s a toonie you ask? Well, Canada’s $1 coin began to be called a “loonie” after its introduction, because of the image of a loon on the coin. When the time came to introduce a $2 coin, it seemed natural to call it a “toonie”. The design of a polar bear on an ice floe was created by Brent Townsend, a Campbellford artist. Imagine our surprise as we enjoyed our drinks and snacks to see a big tour bus draw up on the other side of the park and decant large numbers of Japanese tourists. They proceeded to wander around the park in a bemused fashion, eventually posing for the usual selfies with the statue, and returning to their bus after about a 30 minute stop. Who knew a 27 foot toonie was such a tourist draw that people would travel from the other side of the world to see it?
The town’s attractions did not end with good docking and a giant toonie. In the evening we discovered a tiny European style bistro called Antonia’s. It is owned and run by a chef from Sri Lanka and his Filipino wife, who retired from the restaurant business in Toronto. Frustrated by the lack of local fine dining, they opened their bistro two years ago, and it has become a very successful business. The menu is mostly European. Dick loved his Osso Bucco, and I had delicious shrimp in Cajun cream sauce. However, the chef told us they also offer a ‘curry night” about once a month, that is increasingly popular.
From Campbellford we continued our leisurely trip to Hastings, transiting another 6 locks to arrive at a town wall that was completely full with small boats stopping for ice cream. Fortunately, the town also operates a marina across the river, and they had room for us for the night. The next day we enjoyed a relief from locks for most of the day, travelling across Rice Lake and then up the pretty Otonabee River to finish with one lock and arrival in Peterborough.
Peterborough is a medium sized city that is becoming a mecca for retirees. Cultural activities and affordable living are listed as some of the advantages, in addition to easy access to major centres of Toronto, Ottawa, and Kingston. There is a nice marina at the edge of Little Lake, a relatively short walk to downtown and restaurants. Yesterday evening we walked to a nearby Italian restaurant, and after an excellent meal we discovered that Dick’s Uncle Hans and his wife Cathy were docked just along the waterfront in their houseboat. After some convivial conversation and drinks on board their boat we staggered home to Nine Lives. In the centre of Little Lake is a huge waterspout fountain, and at night it is lit by changing colours. We are looking forward to a local Indian restaurant for our dinner tonight.
The next couple of weeks will include the Peterborough Lift Lock and the Big Chute Marine Railway and arrival in Georgian Bay. That will get us a break from locks for a while and some more weather dependent travel to look forward to.