It is difficult to discuss the Trent Severn without covering the topic of locks, a large part of the passage through this waterway. Most of the locks are the traditional tank-type locks with doors at either end. This photo illustrates an empty tank, the closed doors on the upside, and Last Dance tied to the lock wall waiting for the lock tenders to return. The lock chamber will be flooded with water from the high side, bringing the water level to the same as the boat is floating. The doors open, the boat moves into the lock, the water drained to the lower level, then the lower doors open allowing the boat to move out of the lock. This is the most often used mechanism to move boats to higher levels of water, such as the Great Lakes. Lakes Michigan and Huron are 576 feet above sea level.
The Peterborough lift lock is a very different lock for North America. Two large pans, filled with water, lift or lower boats. The pans are linked together so the weight of the upper pan lifts the boats in the lower pan. The change in elevation is 65 feet and is accomplished in only a few minutes, much quicker than filling a tank-type lock. The Peterborough lock was one of the few locks that Last Dance had to share with other boats, a full load of boats.
A view looking aft from the boat as the lock pan reaches the top. At this point, one would not want the pan door to open.
Approaching the Kirkfield lock, the highest point that a boat can reach entering from sea level - anywhere in the world - 840 feet above sea level. It is the only other lift lock, like the one in Peterborough, in the western hemisphere. At this point, boats heading west are locked down 50 feet. Just behind one of those two gates resides a pan full of water ready to transport a boat to the lower water level. Behind the other gate is a 50 foot drop. The colorful boat is a Trent Severn tug used for maintenance of the waterway.
Then, there is the lock they call the Big Chute. It is a railway car that travels down into the water, boats move into the car, and straps lift the boat for a journey across a road, over a hill, and down into a lower level of water. Unlike travel lifts in boatyards, the crew is not allowed off the boat for this trip, one not totally enjoyed by all the crew members.
View aft as the boat travels out of the water, across the road, on the journey to the lower water level.
As it was a slow day, the lockmaster stopped the Big Chute, climbed down onto the deck, and walked under the boat. It was early in the year and the canal had a bumper crop of weeds, many which had been dislodged from the props by putting the boat into reverse, spinning the props in the opposite direction. However, many remained, slowing speed and reducing efficiency. He made multiple trips under the boat to remove the weeds.
The result of his work was a large stack of weeds and much better performance for the boat.
The rivers and lakes along the Trent Severn are cottage country for the populous area to the south around Toronto. Canadians flock to the waters for their summer retreats. The shoreline on many rivers and seemingly every island has a cottage, no matter how small.
The waterway not only makes travel by boat possible, it also serves as landing strips for airplanes You work in Toronto and have a cottage in the Kawartha Lakes area. How do you get through all that traffic to spend a weekend at the cottage? Just fly your float plane and land behind your cottage.
Wildlife - Loons
Just outside of one of the locks a Loon had its nest in an area of weeds on the water. The lockmasters advised boaters to travel slowly in order to not disturb the nesting bird. Loons have multiple songs which seem to be a haunting tune.
One couple, who must have begun their nesting earlier were seen escorting their chick along the canal. Loons create a magnetic attraction for humans. They are shy and elusive and sightings are always celebrated.