We traveled a few hours from our anchorage in Picton to the marina in Trenton on Wednesday, arriving early afternoon. The marina just opened 2 year ago and was wonderful. There was an ice cream shop on site as well as beautiful bathrooms and free laundry in brand new machines. I do all our laundry on the boat and am blessed to be able to do so. But to have access to a clean laundry room with new machines that are also free with detergent provided? I decided to wash every blanket and heavy, bulky towel I could get my hands on just because I could!
Around 6 PM Ben’s parents and our nieces, Sophie and Zoe, arrived from Chicago. They had had a long day in the car. My girls had had a long day waiting for them. Molly and Madelyn were so excited to see them all. They hadn’t seen Sophie and Zoe since May when we made a quick trip for a family reunion. Sophie had planned to come all along but Zoe was undecided until last minute so it was a fun surprise for the girls. We refused to tell them what she decided until they pulled in and got out of the car.
We had dinner on the boat and a fun night of catching up and visiting. The girls had a pretty late night but eventually settled down and got some sleep.
Thursday morning we headed into town to see Trenton. We’d heard it was a wonderful stop for boaters and were excited to see it. We had such a great time in Kingston and Gananoque that we were assuming we’d find the same. We walked into downtown Trenton and couldn’t find anything to do. Not one single store that looked interesting to go into. All of the recommended restaurants were open later in the day for dinner. There just wasn’t anything there. And we had a perfect weather day. We had a few dicey storm days coming up in the forecast so we decided to check out of the marina Thursday and start the Trent-Severn canal! But first we fit in a stop for ice cream at the marina and introduced Sophie and Zoe to Kawartha Dairy ice cream.
We’ve been waiting for months to see the Trent-Severn. It’s a canal system of 44 locks that will take us 2-3 weeks to complete we think. It will take us from Trenton to Port Severn and from there we’ll head into the Georgian Bay. This first leg to Frankford was six locks and only about 8 miles. We also had to stop at Lock 1 and get our Parks Canada Lock pass and sticker for the season. This is Canada’s 150th birthday and the canal systems are all free! We got lucky this year. Between Canada’s 150th and Lake Erie’s 200th we’ve been able to do all of these routes for free.
The locks here are different than others we have seen. The lock tenders open and close the gates manually in many of the locks. There are a few hydraulic doors but many of them involve the lock tender cranking the doors closed on one end and then walking to the other end and opening the gates. They usually have two people working so that they can open the gates on both sides of the lock at the same time.
Nikki drove the car the first day and stopped to see us at one of the locks. The locks here in Canada are so welcoming. You can just walk up and watch, walk across the lock wall bridges when closed, use the restrooms in the lock houses, or just sit and watch. The Parks Canada employees are all polite and friendly. As they walk from one end of the lock to the other every single one of them stops to say hello and ask how we are doing and frequently chat about our journey. Many of the locks also have lock houses from years ago on site. Some of them are beautiful old buildings that the lock tenders used to live in. Long ago the locks were operated on an as needed basis and the lock tender would live in the house so he/she could operate the lock any time of day or night.
Nikki was able to watch us lock up into Frankford. Once through the lock we tied up at the Lock wall on the other side for the night. Frankford is one of the few locks that has power hookups at the lock wall. The lock tender told me that the town paid to have them installed. Parks Canada wouldn’t. But the town knew that the lock tenders send boaters into town to eat in the restaurants and shop in the shops.
It was a hot day so our first stop was a playground and splash park for the girls to cool off. Then we went into town for dinner. The girls got their own table and asked if they could order poutine! None of them had tried it before (nor had we!). Zoe asked to order it – she tends to be pickier like Maddy so we were excited to have them give it a try. They all liked it ok. Madelyn did not give it a taste. Maybe next time.
The next morning we let the kids run off some energy for a few minutes at the playground before heading another six locks towards Campbellford.