Fenelon Falls Lock 34 to Orillia

Fenelon Falls is another popular lock with a bit of a touristy feel, but delightful. We arrived just before noon, and found a spot on the wall in town. Lots of houseboat and jet ski activity, but laid back and delightful.The lock is adjacent to a dam and a small hydro plant, not unusual as many of the locks incorporate a dam with a hydroelectric plant. The falls for which the town is named are also just below the dam. There is a museum just a block or two from the lock, it’s well done and gives a visitor a good history of the local area. The canal wall terminates by a defunct railroad swing bridge, and is the entrance into Cameron Lake.

Beyond Cameron Lake is Lock 36, the Kirkfield Lift lock. The Kirkfield lock shares much of the technology of the Peterborough lock,with some significant differences.  The lift is not as high as the Peterborough lock, however the tubs are the same size. The structure is somewhat smaller due to the lower lift, and much of it is steel rather than concrete. We’re also dropping rather than lifting, since we’re now heading to lower elevations.  The view from the wheelhouse entering the lock is odd, to say the least! We’re accustomed to seeing water when looking out the windshield, but once positioned in the lock tub, the only thing to see is a huge drop-off! Still, very interesting, and the actual motion of the lock is very smooth and rather quick. It’s a huge elevator ride for a floating boat!

The section of the waterway between Cameron Lake and Lake Simcoe is the most treacherous part of the entire waterway. Leaving the Kirkfield Lock the depth is minimal, the canal transits Canal Lake, and is essentially a ditch through the lake. We bumped the bottom a few times, and the bottom isn’t sand, it’s rock! So idle slow is the rule, since in shallow water, the bow wave being pushed by the boat creates a suction behind it, dropping the boat lower in the water. More speed, more suction, increasing the chances to get closer to the bottom. Additionally, beyond Canal Lake is the Trent Canal, a narrow section of canal that isn’t a real problem as long as there is no vessel coming from the opposite direction. There isn’t room to pass, and certainly no way to turn around in the canal. VHF security calls are used by many of the larger vessels that would have a problem meeting, however most of the boaters don’t monitor the VHF on the waterway, so y’ takes yer chances! A bit nerve wracking! Some parts are still very picturesque, and the scenery is quite stunning if you can forget you’re just inches from the bottom!

The canal ends with the entrance to Lake Simcoe, where the bottom drops and there’s lots of open space! Time to relax a bit and enjoy the scenery! We cross Lake Simcoe and through the Narrows and into Lake Couchiching, a bit of a hook to port and we’re in Orillia!

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