Muskoka Trent-Severn Lock Tour

Cruising along the canals by car!

FRIDAY JUNE 15th started out cool but sunny with a promise of warming up as the day progressed… a perfect day for a drive in the country!

Thirty five enthusiasts made their way to the starting point in Brechin (northeast corner of Lake Simcoe). Some came from the GTA and others from cottage country. Highways 48 and 12, the most direct routes to Brechin from Toronto, turned out to be inhabited by convoys of gravel trucks on weekdays, so this was not a good start for some.

Cars on our tour included the usual 911 variations; Boxsters and Caymans along with a 944, a 928 S4, who’s driver commented how nice it was to exercise his car with the newer models, and a Macan GTS. The theme of the tour was “different locks on the Trent-Severn Waterway” with three types being used. I had sent out abbreviated notes on the system and the locks to be seen along with pictures from within the locks for background. I tied them together with some interesting roads to drive.

After gathering and doing our safety briefing, we set out for Kirkfield, a lift lock similar to but with a lower lift, to the one in Peterborough. While the lock was open, it was early in the boating season so we were not able to see the lock in operation. However, there were signs posted outlining the history and operation of the lock. After that stop we headed out to Crossroads in Rosseau by a most indirect route, heading northwest from Kirkfield, onto Munk Road and up highway 169 to 11 for one exit. At this point things got interesting as we turned off for Coopers Falls Road. Coopers Falls turns into Housey’s Rapids Road which twists and dances over hills heading north. The fun continued along Doe Lake Road west over to Highway 11.

To make up time to get to lunch, we traveled up 11 to Route 141, headed west to Rosseau along 141, them picked up an interesting road with lots of sweeping curves.

Arriving at Rosseau, we pulled into the parking lot behind Crossroads Restaurant that had reserved the patio for us, overlooking the lake. They served a great buffet which gave us a chance to mingle and meet everyone in our group of co-enthusiasts.

Suitably refreshed, we headed out down Route 632 / Peninsula Road. This is a wonderfully twisty piece of road with most of it in excellent condition. One section near Minett held us up due to one-way traffic through some construction. This section ended up just being paved on one lane, while the other side was still gravel, to our disdain.

Big Chute is a unique and impressive piece of engineering used to transport boats between the Severn River and Gloucester Pool. It’s the only one of its kind in North America.

We continued through Bala where we picked up Route 38, heading west to Highway 400 on a twisty section of road through an Indian Reservation. A short trip down the 400 took us to White’s Falls Road. This is a wonderful road twisting up to the Big Chute Marine Railway.

Big Chute is a unique and impressive piece of engineering used to transport boats between the Severn River and Gloucester Pool. It’s the only one of its kind in North America. Unfortunately, while there were boats there that would have liked to make the trip, a maintenance crew was busy changing the cables used to haul the carriage up the hills. We did take the walk beside the track down to the lower level stopping to take pictures at the bottom and on the way back up. 

Our last leg was retracing our way along Upper Big Chute Road / White’s Falls Road, crossing the 400 and picking up the delightful South Bay Road to the more mundane Honey Harbour Road and ending up in Port Severn at Bush’s Marina. After a group picture with our cars we wandered over to Lock 45, a traditional style lock, and the last and smallest on the Trent-Severn system. Here we were fortunate to watch a 42 foot cruiser passing through the locks. After that it was wrap up time with drinks on the patio at the marina.

It was great to get together with fellow Porsche enthusiasts. We enjoyed each other’s company and the drive on some entertaining roads away from the traffic and gridlock of the city. We had several boaters in the group along with some engineers, who found the locks especially fascinating.

This was the first Driving Tour that I have organized, and I expect not the last one. Join us next year.

Note to future participants: Driving Tours are fun family events. “No worry, don’t hurry” is the mantra of these wonderfully relaxing events. If you get lost, simply meet-up at the next designated stop. All stopping points are listed in the instructions handed out or emailed prior to each event to all participants. Be mindful of other road users, especially those on two wheels. Respect cyclists as equals on the road and stop if necessary to let them pass or cross ahead of you. Obey all traffic laws and drive safely at all times. UCR Driving Tours are listed at: www.clubregistration.net </>

Story & photos by Larry Funnell, UCR Member

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