Sunday, 12 August 2012

Love the Place you Live

Let me tell you a little story about why I love my home, this town, and this province so much.  One of the things I wanted to do when I started blogging was to encourage people to get outside, wherever they are, and enjoy the land surrounding them.  Locals are always the worst at knowing what gems lay in their own hometown.  So to some degree, this blog is purely gratuitous.  Its me talking about what I want to talk about.  But I'm also hoping to inspire you to get outside and DO ANYTHING.  Here in the Toronto region, we get warm weather from about June 1st to mid-September.  By August, you can already feel the cooler evenings settling in, start to wake up to darkening mornings and see the sun going down faster.  Any weekend in September that's hot enough to swim is a precious gift.  last year summer only lasted for 1 month, but then our Thanksgiving in October brought weather back that was warm enough to swim in (so we did).  Summer is short here, it's intensely hot and humid, and winter is always just around the corner.  So get outside already, and savour the last few nice days while you still can.

Ahem, still with me?  Along that line, let me tell you what I did on my last stat holiday (this past Monday)...

Throughout all of the province of Ontario, there are approximately 250,000 bodies of water that are classified as lakes, more than 4,000 of them considered to be navigable by boat.  So you see, Ontario is a land of water almost as much as it is land.  Most of this water is in the distant north, many hours drive away from the Toronto region where I am.  But within an easy 2 hour drive heading north and east is the whole "Kawartha Region" which includes about 16 very large freshwater lakes all of which are settled with hundred and hundreds of cottages.  Every single one of these 16 lakes are within a 2 hour drive of my home.  And running through this cottage country is the Trent-Severn.  At some point in history, someone had the brilliant idea of connecting most of these lakes using existing rivers within the watershed, and some man-made canals.  They are connected through a system of "locks" that accomodate the varying water levels and eliminate any un-navigable rapids.  You can take a boat, even a 35-40 foot cruiser, all the way from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay 386 km, or 240 miles). 

So for those of us with a boat, cruising the Trent-Severn is a popular hobby.  And there are a considerable amount of us with boats.  Maybe not cabin cruisers, no, but motorized boats nonetheless.  When I go jogging in my neighborhood, in fact, I pass at least 6 boats just within the 5 km radius of my run.  And those are just the boats that are stored on driveways.  There is a whole boat-storage industry out there making a mint off of people just like you or me, who can afford NOT to store it on their driveway.

This is my picture-story of our last cruise.  For those of you without a boat, it is a perspective you just won't see elsewhere.  Just because I love the water, I love this province, and and hopefully everyone in the GTA will see this and appreciate what we've got.  (And maybe also so that everyone else who thinks its all snow and cold, crappy weather here gets to see otherwise...)

Add caption

So this is the whole Trent-Severn.  From Lake Ontario, which is so huge that you cannot see the other side due to the curvature of the earth, all the way to Georgian Bay.  My hometown of Ajax is on Lake Ontario somewhere off this map due south of Beaverton.  I'd say its a 2 hour drive to Trenton, its a 2 hour drive to Bobcaygeon, and a 2 hour drive to that part of Georgina Bay from my house.  Roads don't go straight, or over the water for that matter.

We put in at Port Perry on Lake Scugog, on the far side of the "island" (so the second south tip on the map), and we went up to Bobcageon and back.  That's all you can accomplish in a day. 

On the right, I took this shot just as we pulled out of the marina.  The water channel goes all the way up into the farthest point of sight, then turns left down a river.  This is looking due north on the map to the northernmost tip of the lake.
See all the cottages on the shoreline?  They absolutely cover the whole perimeter of the lake.  Scugog has a brownish tinge to the water because even though its around 68 km square, it's average depth is only 1.6m (5').   It is all sand under there. 

Who knows this saying, "Red, right, return?"  The waterway is channel-marked with red and green buoys.  Its like driving on  a highway sometimes, there are so many boats.  This was taken on the way out, so the red buoy is to our left side.
 Now, I don' know about you, but if I lived on the Trent-Severn, where property values are through-the-roof expensive, I'd have some house-pride.  Not this guy on the left.  He has about 30 fish heads nailed to his boathouse all around the Canadian flag.  Ugh.  This is on the canal leading into Lindsay.

 Coming into the first set of locks in Lindsay.  This is where it gets neat,  if you've never seen  locks.  One of my favorite things about Lindsay?  Clock tower chimes.  There are about 4 in town that all chime on the hour and half-hour, each slightly out of sync with the next one.  Most towns don't let you sound the church chimes anymore.  But Lindsay does.  I lived here for a couple of years while I was in college.
 This pic was taken from inside the lock, looking back behind us at the next boat that is following us in.
 Looking forwards, through the other side of the lock, you can see how much lower the water is.
 So this is a manual lock.  Many are hydrolic now, but this one is still manual.  So they have to crank the gates closed by hand.  What a summer job to have, cranking locks all day in the sunshine...  Nice, cushy government job...  You can see the cables that run down into the locks for boats to loop onto while being lowered down so we're not all playing bumper boats.
Steve's just holding the rope and waiting for the water to drop. The man behind him is cranking open the water channels.  See how cushy her job is?  She gets to watch him open the water channels.
 When the water drops, it exposes all kinds of guck.  Here, slime and zebra mussels.  Totally invasive species all over the Trent-Severn.  Do you have zebra mussels where you are?  They suck.  They're ridiculously sharp and they'll cut your feet open if you step on them.  But apparently they also filter and clean the water, so we can't totally hate them. 
 See how far down we had to come?  Opening the locks on the other side.
 Just us and one other boat this time.  Check out the water and sludge line.  Ewww.  We drop about 8-10 feet on this lock.  The one in Fenlon Falls drops almost 20 feet.  Its a pretty freaky view from the bottom of the locks.
Ok, so coming out of Lindsay onto Sturgeon Lake, you see  all kinds of these--cottages built on stilts in the middle of the cattails, no where near the land.  So many of them are crumbling, rotting, and falling back into the water.  I don't know what posessed people to build in the middle of the lake here... right on the channel...
But two cottages got it right; houses on stilts with floating docking.  Miles from land.  That's all cattails and marsh behind them.
 Coming into Bobcaygeon.  Sturgeon is deep and cold and choppy water, but very, very blue.  Here in the bay, its a lot calmer (but there's a breaker wall just in case).  You're getting into Canadian Shield here, so you start to see nothing but rock further north of here.  Still, there's a sandy beach on the right.

 I had to make this one big enough to see.  In the distance is the next lock at Bobcaygeon, and on either side of the channel, dozens and dozens of boats waiting to come and go from the lock system, boaters who just cruised into town to shop and get ice cream, and even to camp on  the lawn and continue on their journey tomorrow.

Ah, cottaging done right--on the island, just 100 meters from the locks and the centre of town....

So that's my tour of a day's boating on the Trent-Severn.  We've had a really great, really hot summer this year.  Monday brought a slightly cooler day-- 26 degrees celcius most of the day, a light breeze coming off the water.  Not a cloud  in the sky.

Not a bad day to put the boat in the water.

So, now its your turn.  What did you do in your hometown or region this past weekend?  What do you love about the place you live in?

No comments:

Post a Comment