We left Buckhorn early Friday morning so that we could arrive in Bobcaygeon just after the locks started running. Our hope was that a few people would have pulled off the wall leaving a spot for us for the weekend. Our plan worked. In fact as we were approaching the lock there was a wide open spot. We had planned to lock up and look for a spot on the other side, but there was a spot our size just below the swing bridge and perfect. We took it and were settled by 10 AM.
We spent a leisurely day in Bobcaygeon. The lock runs right through town and there are a lot of people walking around everywhere. This coupled with the weekend boat traffic made for good people watching and a lot of visiting along the lock wall. I’ve mentioned that we stay on lock walls a lot but if you haven’t seen one that may not make too much sense. Both before and after the lock there are long walls with cleats on them for boats to tie to. A few of the locks have power hookups (Bobcaygeon and Fenelon Falls are 2 of these), only one or two of them also have water. So, they are not like staying in a marina but they are run by Parks Canada, they are VERY affordable, and you get to meet a lot of people in a lot of nice places spending the night as well. We’ve stayed on some walls that are beautiful and others that are just a wall to tie to. Bobcaygeon’s lower wall was great. We had a fun group of boaters tied behind us and spent the weekend visiting with all of them.
We spent the afternoon walking around town. We walked one direction and did some shopping and found the Kawartha Dairy store. Kawartha Dairy was started in Bobcaygeon. They have since expanded to other towns but there is still a Kawartha Dairy store in Bobcaygeon. We went to check it out. It’s off the main drag a few blocks away but the ice cream prices are higher than the ice cream places in town. So, we went to see it and look around but saved buying ice cream for later that day.
We went out for lunch and explored the other side of town. Bigley’s is a huge chain of stores in Bobcaygeon. They have a kitchen store, a clothing store, a swim suit store, and about three store fronts of shoes. The girls spent maybe 45 minutes trying on swimming suits. Huge end of summer sales so we stocked up on new swim suits for them. We made them wait long enough and finally got ice cream. Worth the wait!
We got up Saturday morning and had a lazy day. Ben took on a project to modify our electrical wiring to be able to charge the batteries from an ordinary household circuit. Bobcaygeon had power hookups but only 30 amp. Our boat has 50 amp. We have splitters and converters but we’d need two 30 amp hookups to make it work. So we just run the generator to charge batteries. But the nights and mornings are cool so we don’t need much AC and it’s silly to be using all that fuel so Ben rigged up this system so he could plug into one of the 30 amp hookups and charge our house batteries. This didn’t run the AC or the stove or anything else we’d normally use the generator for but unless we needed to cook something we didn’t need that anyway. So, he worked on that, Molly and Maddy played outside, I worked on an impossible puzzle and tried to clean up a bit.
The girls kept begging to go get ice cream. We kept stalling them. We had a BIG surprise in store and managed to pull it off. We’d arranged another visit with Kathy and the girls and our girls had NO IDEA!!! Complicated by Kathy not having cell service in Canada we knew approximately when she should arrive and kept sort of nonchalantly walking to “look around”. They asked again about ice cream and Ben said he wanted to go watch the locks for a bit instead. I knew which direction she should be coming from so we crossed to the other side of the lock wall and stood and watched the boats. You know, because we never see boats going through locks, but they didn’t question it too much. There happened to be a large houseboat in the lock with someone in a giant dinosaur costume dancing. Bizarre but held their attention for a bit. Meanwhile I turned around and was scanning the street, and then the white Volvo appeared!!! I waved. Molly turned around. I wasn’t quick enough with the camera but Kathy says the look on her face was priceless. It’s so much fun to pull off a huge surprise. And then just as Molly was running after the car, the lock tender opened the swing bridge and Kathy couldn’t cross. Unbelievable timing. It took FOREVER. Ridiculous. Squealing kids, crazy excited and we just kept waiting for that darn bridge to close. As soon as it did the girls asked if they could run across (there’s a pedestrian lane). They ran to the car and then ran back across with it until Kathy could turn and the girls could hop out. Again I wasn’t fast enough and I didn’t get any good surprise pictures.
We immediately went and got ice cream for all! And explained that’s why we’d been putting it off all day long. We took a walk around town, showed them the crazy huge swim suit shop, walked down the lock wall to a park at the other end and let them play.
In hindsight we should have stayed in Bobcaygeon for Sunday too. Ben and I have agreed that along the Trent-Severn Waterway lock walls, Bobcaygeon was our favorite. It just had a great feel to it and we liked the people there a lot. But we’d heard great things about Fenelon Falls as well and decided to head there Sunday morning. We left Kathy’s car and moved the short distance to Fenelon Falls. We had to go through the lock at Bobcaygeon and then through the lock at Fenelon Falls. So we got to teach Livia and Claudia how to do the locks too! After the girls had so much fun doing the locks with Sophie and Zoe, they were excited to have Livia and Claudia help too. It’s fun to be able to show others part of our trip and some of the things the girls have learned.
We got to Fenelon Falls and got tied up on a wall with power and water. This meant we didn’t have to monitor water level for dishes and showers and meant I could do laundry. We got off the boat and went to explore. There was a beachfront park at the end of the drive and we headed straight there. The girls ran and played and picked flowers and burned some energy off.
We went back to the boat for some lunch and then threw on swim suits and grabbed some towels. We headed back to the beach to play for awhile. Then Ben, Kathy, Livia and Molly took off in the dinghy to go back to Bobcaygeon to pick up the car. They made it to Bobcaygeon and Kathy and the girls hopped in the car and Ben came back in the dinghy. He missed the last lock through so we had to keep the dinghy tied up on the lower wall. Another boat we’ve been traveling with was down there and he tied the dinghy right in front of their boat.
While they were picking up the car I took Madelyn, Claudia and Sabina for a walk to see the “falls”. The falls are basically from the dam next to the lock but the water here is used to create power. It was pretty impressive to watch the amount of water flowing over the falls. I made sure to keep the girls at a distance from the fence.
Monday was a beautiful 80 degree day. It was also eclipse day! Ben and the girls went and picked the dinghy up from the other side of the lock first thing when the lock opened and got to ride the lock up in the dinghy. They took it out on Cameron Lake to explore depths a bit.
The little girls had a serious game going the whole time in Fenelon. There were huge boulders along the sidewalks and they couldn’t help but climb on them all the time. They took their dolls out and played. They picked all sorts of leaves and flowers and made them into full meals, they carried diaper bags and doll clothes out there. It was driving us a bit insane but kept them happy for hours. I was going stir crazy and begged to head out for a walk. So, we walked and got ice cream and then around some stores and stopped to watch some local pottery being made. We walked past the museum and saw the little school house and a sign for Pioneer School at 9 AM Tuesday.
Finally it was time for the eclipse. We had maybe a 2/3 eclipse up in Canada. We had a two hour window and had so much fun watching for almost the full two hours. Kathy had two pairs of eclipse glasses from her local library. And we ran back to the boat and made two pinhole eclipse viewers with cereal boxes on the boat. The kids had fun making them and then we all had fun watching. It was a gorgeous sunny day with not a cloud to be found. The eclipse glasses were MUCH better but it was fun to see it through the cereal boxes as well. We couldn’t look away. We also tried the selfie shots and using the glasses to take a picture. Both worked but showed up fairly fuzzy. What a great learning experience for all of the girls. Even the dolls got in on the action!
After the eclipse we took the dinghy out on Cameron Lake. We had rain moving in Tuesday followed by colder weather so we wanted to soak up the sunshine. It was only a 4 mile run across the lake on the big boat so we scouted out that path for a bit and then ducked into a little bay so the girls could swim. The water in this area is VERY weedy. They hesitated for a minute but ended up all jumping in.
The next morning was rainy and rain was forecasted all day so we took quick walks when we could. I remembered Pioneer School at the last minute so we ran over there only to find out it was full. Who knew we had to sign up in advance! It was an adorable old school house with desks and little chalkboards for the kids. They would have loved it. We walked and got donuts and around town a bit in the sprinkling rain. We were hoping to make it back to the pottery place but she wasn’t working in the rain. Back to the boat for a bit. When the rain finally cleared that afternoon we headed back out. Maddy and Claudia became obsessed with snails! They stopped by the pottery place and lined them all up on a fence to “save them”. We explained that wasn’t saving them! We asked them to put them all back in the grass.
The lady was back making pottery and the girls just loved to watch. We watched her making mugs the day before and it was fun to see how many more she finished after we left. Molly and Livia ran right up and asked how many she made. Kathy and I bought a few things and then tried to pull Maddy and Claudia away from their snail family.
We got back to the boat and the girls grabbed a bucket, filled it with twigs, leaves and little crab apples and then snails. Yes the whole bucket. They set them up with their dolls on the rocks. When we made them come in they brought the snail bucket onto the back of the boat and tried covering it with Frisbees because I wouldn’t give them foil – because you know snails live in the wild, not in a bucket! At one point when they went out to check on them we were met with lots of shrieks, screams and giggles – the snails climbed out. They were all over the sides of the bucket and Frisbee.
Wednesday morning brought another goodbye. But a quick one. We will be driving home in two weeks for our niece Sophie’s Bat Mitzvah and will drive right through the Detroit area. Given that we have a 9+ hour drive depending on where we drive from, it’ll make for a nice stop and break up the trip. That made the goodbye so much easier and tear free!
We headed the short 4 miles to Rosedale lock. The wind was still brutal and it was still raining on and off but we wanted to make a little progress and get through the next lock. We had our longest and most stressful day on the Trent-Severn Waterway, and possibly the entire loop, up next. Rosedale was secluded, quiet and beautiful. We met a lovely couple with a boat with a keel that agreed to travel with us the next day and more importantly in front of us to help us through!