Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Roches et Arbres

Craig has grown tired of my constant rendition of the Arrogant Worms’ song that sums up Canada perfectly:
We have rocks and trees and trees and rocks and rocks and trees and trees and rocks and…WATER.

Coming from central Alberta where we flock to a few sloughs for lakes, I am surprised by Ontario's vast aqua-geography.  Water-front properties are a dime a dozen, and we have had the chance to motor through lakes, rivers, and canals to our hearts' content.  
Our chart plotter through north Georgian Bay

Sixteen months ago, we arrived in Midland, Ontario, from Florida, attempting to join a flotilla of other PDQ’s.  Nestled in a quiet bay on the far-east end of Lake Huron, Midland is a watered gateway to Georgian Bay, a northern arm of the Lake.  Lord Simcoe’s touch is everywhere.  As a former officer for the British in the American Revolutionary War, Simcoe was commissioned as the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada in 1791.  He named Lake Simcoe after his father, although I’m not sure how one would distinguish its name for the elder Simcoe.  The townships we frequented of Tay, Tiny, and Flos were named after Lady Simcoe’s dogs.  We recently zoomed across the 30 km long Lake at 13 knots on our third day out from Midland, listening to radioed sightings of water spouts which were somewhat of a mystery since it was a sunny day.  Lake Simcoe can whip up quickly, and we took advantage of some calmer waters to cross from Orillia in the north back into the canal system at Lock 41.

Alberta Crewed spent last winter in a warm boatyard quonset.   We left her at the dock of very generous friends for the summer, and are now in the race to beat the closing of the locks.  We have to get her out of the Canadian and American canals before October 11 as we head south to spend the winter in Florida and Bahamas.  This means travelling back through over 150 Canadian and American locks and through hundreds of kilometers of Ontario lakes, rivers, and canals.  Another I-had-no-idea.  I knew we had a few canals and locks in Canada.  We have 7 historic canal systems, dozens of other recently constructed canals with locks across the country, and some of the oldest and most unique locks in the world.  For example, The Big Chute which was our second one out is a marine railway lock.  We float into a barge-like vessel and settle into large cradles.  The barge then rises out of the water, while we swing in the cradles, and travels along railway tracks.  At the end, we are lowered off of the cradles into the water and off we go. 
Big Chute Railway Lift Lock

Canals were the original pre-auto, pre-railway freeways and opened up lucrative trade routes between waterways, reducing back-breaking portages and over-land hauling of goods.  The Trent-Severn Waterway of rivers, lakes, and canals connected by 44 locks is now a pleasure-craft route and designated as a national park.  Our views are forested narrow channels, winding rivers lined by grasslands and farms, and massive Canadian Shield bedrock.  Days and days of "Rocks and trees and trees and rocks and rocks and trees and trees and rocks and…..water."

Inside the lock walls, waiting for the water fill to raise us.

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