Part 3: on to Canada
Part 3: On to CanadaJune 22, 2011
We are in Ontario at a lock on the Rideau Canal. We have splurged and paid an extra $9.80 for “hydro”-- Canada speak for electricity.
We crossed LakeOntario June 10, picking up the spare prop at the last marina before the lake. The lake was a little sloppy but as the wind was from the north, it improved about as we crossed the line into Canada. We waited 2 ½ hours for a bridge to open in Kingston harbor and finally got to a marina where we could make our call to Canadian customs and replace our yellow quarantine flag with the red and white maple leaf flag of Canada.
We did our shopping and laundry the next morning (try carrying three loads of laundry on a bicycle uphill!), and then went sightseeing, beginning with a trolley bus tour of the city. We also made a quick visit to the Great Lakes Marine museum, which features a Coast Guard Ice-breaker.
On June 12 we entered the first lock on the Rideau Canal which goes from Kingston to Ottawa. The canal was built in the 1830's to provide for a passage of military supplies from Kingston to Montreal and Quebec should “the enemy to the south” (that's us y'all) decide to capture the St. Lawrence River. But of course we never attacked so the canal was put to commercial, and later, recreational use.
The small towns along the canal thrived for a while but, like the towns along the Erie Canal, now largely depend on tourism. Today the canal is operated by Parks Canada and it has been designated a World Heritage Site.
The 47 locks are small and mostly hand-operated by college-age students who are employed for the summer. There are also permanent lock staff who supervise. They are all very friendly and helpful and patient. This is not an experience for someone who's in a hurry- 20 miles and 12 locks is more than enough for a day.
The canal winds through a variety of rivers and lakes and the scenery changes from more rugged granite outcroppings and mixed hardwood conifer forest to cottage-lined lakes, then more rolling farmland and finally the larger homes and wonderful parks and bikeways of Ottawa.
We spent three days in Ottawa, tied up at the brand new canal docks right downtown; it was a five minute walk to Parliament Hill and biking distance to several museums. We enjoyed a tour of Parliament, the Museum of Civilization, the NationalArt Museum, Rideau Hall (where the governor general lives and the Queen stays when she visits) and the Byward Market. There is excitement building for the visit of Prince William and Kate who will be in Ottawa for Canada Day, July 1 (like our July 4th).
Hundreds of people ride bikes in Ottawa and the city has a wealth of off-road bike trails as well as bike lanes on major roads. It is a very attractive city with European-looking buildings, wide streets and lots of landscaping.
Now we are on our way back to Kingston on the Rideau, stopping at some of the places we missed on the way north. We have been blessed with fine weather until today which turned into an steady drizzle. Dawn breaks before 5:00 AM and it is still light at 9:30 PM so it is hard to get in 8 hours of sleep. We enjoy the haunting call of the loons on the lakes but are less thrilled by the buzz of mosquitoes and deer flies but it is all part of the experience.
We have made some new friends along the way and reconnected with some folks we knew previously. Tonight two fellows arrived at the lock in Adirondack guide boats (look like rowed canoes). They are making a 500 mile journey to Lake George via Ottawa, the St. Lawrence, the Richelieu, and Lake Champlain. They were wet and, I bet, tired. And I thought we were roughing it!- Not!
Hope your summer is going well.
We have "hydro" so will bring you up-to-date while the clothes dry. It is 7:05 AM; we have had breakfast, done a load of laundry and the sun is high in the sky!
We left the Rideau Canal at Kingston, ON and travelled through the Bay of Quinte, a protected passage along the north shore of LakeOntario, to Trenton. On the way we anchored out in a sidewater and stopped the second night at Belleville where we used the bicycles to visit a lovely rose garden and Glanmore, a national historic site (a late Victorian house, fullt furnished). After completing household chores, we finished the day with a free band concert in a park.
The next day we went through Trent and began our 240 mile trip on the Trent-Severn Waterway. Built to connect lakeOntario with Georgian Bay (Lake Huron), the canal was started in 1833 but not completed until 1920. It served a number of interests from logging runs to transport of goods and people. Again, when railroads and roads were built, the canal fell into disuse until it was transferred to Parks Canada which maintains it as a national historic canal.
We have come the first 90 miles (19 locks) to Peterborough. Along the way we have stayed at some rural lock stations and a couple of towns, Campbellford and Hastings. Actually, we just stopped for the day in Campbellford, finding a grocery store, a small restaurant for lunch (great turkey soup), a bakery (two apple fritters), a place for Jean to get a haircut, and the World's Finest Chocolate outlet store (a dangerous place!).
We chose Hastings for Canada Day (July 1) to see what a small town celebration of Canada's confederation would be like. We went to the firehouse for hotdogs ($1.00) and ice cream (free), then took our chairs to the bandstand for an afternoon concert (which included some clogging, but I must report that our cloggers put a lot more into it). In the afternoon, there was a parade, complete with 2 bagpipe bands (much to Mel's delight), antique cars, muscle cars, tractors, the Shriners, fire engines, a few floats and civic personalities. In the evening (10 PM as it stays light late) a nice display of fireworks over the water, which oddly started with a grand rush of color and sound and then sort of slowed down and then it was over. I was waiting for the finale and the big bangs. Anyway it was a great day.
Mel did his civic duty and went out the next morning to pick up litter. I didn't think anyone noticed until boaters next to us came to say thank you and relate how much his action had impressed their thirteen year old daughter. Sometimes we best teach by example. I would have helped in this endeavor, but I was schlepping 6 gallons of water from the distant lock station back to the boat.
So now we are in Peterborough, named after the man who induced a couple thousand Irish immigrants to settle here in the early days.
Our first stop was the hospital to visit a fellow boater who fell getting on her boat and broke her hip in Campbellford and was brought here for surgery. She is about ready to leave the hospital and fly home to Indiana for rehab -- a sad ending to a year-long boat trip. Her husband is trying to round up some "mates" to get the boat back home. I'm glad we made the effort as she hadn't had any other visitors.
After the long pedal to the hospital, we stopped for lunch at a souvlaki place and then we rode out to the lift lock for which Peterborough is famous. It is the highest lift lock in the world. There are two "pans" of water which boats enter, one up and one down. Then water is added to the top pan and the weight pushed the lower pan up as the upper one falls. Quite an amazing thing to see. We will go through it later today, but I wanted to get pictures. There is also a visitor center/museum.
We stopped at the Peterborough museum as well (nicely done history of Peterborough). In the evening, we visited with some boaters from Georgia.
So after we get fuel and a pumpout this morning we will be on our way. We hope you have a glorious Fourth of July!
Mel and Jean.