The Trent-Severn Waterway, the 240-mile-long picturesque passage that connects Lake Ontario to Lake Huron through largely pastoral farmland and little towns in southern Ontario, provides one of the most unique cruising experiences in the world. Indeed, many cruisers who complete the Great Loop say it is the highlight of their entire 5,000-plus-mile trip.
The basic route for the Waterway was traveled by Samuel de Champlain in 1615; he saw it as a way to provide a trade and military advantage connecting the two big lakes. After much debate, work on the Waterway, which starts in the town of Trenton, on eastern Lake Ontario, and ends in Port Severn, on Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay, began in 1833. But because of political squabbling and budget cuts, the entire Waterway wasn’t opened until 1920.
Now operated by Parks Canada, the country’s national park service, the Waterway goes through 16 lakes, has 44 locks, 17 swing bridges and, at Lock 44, the Big Chute, which carries boats in cradles on a railway over a 60-foot change in elevation; it is the only railway of its kind in North America.
It takes most cruising boats about five days to transit the entire Waterway. Here’s a great story from Lakeland Boating, the authoritative voice in this part of the world, about what you’ll find along the way: