The many towns and villages that dot the Trent-Severn waterway each possess their own unique charm. One of the most popular and scenic of these is the town of Bobcaygeon in Ontario’s Kawartha District. Taken from the native Algonquin, Bobcaygeon means “shallow rapids”. While incorporated in January of 2001 as part of the City of Kawartha Lakes, Bobcaygeon’s small town charm, clean waters and offering of both activity and tranquility continue to attract throngs of vacationers.
Located approximately 50 minutes northwest of Peterborough and 2 hours northeast of Toronto, Bobcaygeon lies at the junction of Pigeon and Sturgeon Lakes along Highway 36. The Trent-Severn Waterway’s oldest lock (Lock 32) and swing-bridge separate these two extremely popular bodies of water.
By local estimate, the vast majority of power and sail boats in the region up to 25 feet are trailered to local cottages, marinas or launch ramps. A quick glance at the license plates affixed to out of province boat trailers identifies a healthy sampling from New York, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania; evidence that many families think nothing of driving for 6, 8, and even 10 hours to catch their quota of the plentiful bass, perch, sunfish & blue gill, pickerel (walleye) and muskie. Indeed, many are perpetuating a tradition started two and three generations ago.
Bobcaygeon also provides an excellent on-water launching point for those wishing to take day trips with family and friends on their boat. Lakes such as Buckhorn, Stoney, Lovesick, Big & Little Bald, Cameron and Balsam are popular destinations within easy reach. (As some trips may require locking-through, boaters should be aware of and practice safe locking procedures. A list of lock fees and instructional video is available at www.trentsevern.com.). Charts to have on-hand include (2023) Peterborough to Buckhorn, (2024) Buckhorn to Bobcaygeon and (2025) Bobcaygeon to Lake Simcoe.
Waterskiing, wakeboarding and tubing are extremely popular tow sports in the area with beginner, intermediate and advanced equipment available for sale or rent in town, if required. Sailboat racing is also an oft-enjoyed pastime as organized by the Pigeon Lake Yacht Club and Sturgeon Lake Sailing Club.
While the Trent-Severn Waterway opens in May each year, the summer season kicks off in Bobcaygeon with the annual “Unlock the Summer” festivities that take place in June. In 2008, this kick-off event also adopted a supplementary theme, “Born in Bobcaygeon” to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the birthplace of the waterway in 1833. Other events throughout the season include Canada Day Fireworks and Parade, an Antique, Classic & Custom Car Cruisefest, a Wine & Food Festival, Midnight Madness and Canada’s Premier Fiddle & Step Dance Contest. Wrapping up the season is a fall fair that’s the Granddaddy of them all in Ontario which, in 2008, celebrates its 150th anniversary.
History buffs can take in Kawartha Settler’s Village and the Boyd Heritage Museum. Those with a passion for Canada’s First Nations peoples can experience the traditions of the past at the Curve Lake Indian Reserve’s Whetung Ojibwa Craft & Art Gallery and experience native rock carvings in Petroglyphs Provincial Park, each just minutes from Bobcaygeon.
A word of caution is offered to those intending to pop into town to pick up a quick item. Many a visitor has been lost for hours in an abyss of shops and boutiques. When found, they were so laden with their acquisitions as to be barely recognizable!
Accommodations in the Bobcaygeon area are both varied and plentiful. Many of these are within easy walking distance of the downtown core. The Chamber of Commerce website www.bobcaygeon.org provides a comprehensive list of resorts, campgrounds, motels/hotels, trailer parks as well as bed and breakfast facilities. Restaurants, too, are readily available spanning fast food, pub fare and fine dining. No matter what the entrée, though, the favourite dessert of Bobcaygeon residents and visitors alike is ice cream! And, what better place to indulge that craving than Kawartha Dairy (…arguably Bobcaygeon’s second biggest tourist attraction)!
So, as you’re winding down after a hard week’s work and your colleagues ask how you’re going to spend your vacation, you can tell them that you’re going to fish, ski, wakeboard, cruise, see the sights and kick back a bit…or you can just tell them that you’re Bobcaygeon bound. That says it all!
1. Bobcaygeon Chamber of Commerce: www.bobcaygeon.org 705-738-2202
2. Bobcaygeon Area Launch Ramps – Pigeon Lake
• Happy Days Houseboat Rentals & Marina www.happydayshouseboats.com 705-738-2201.
• Kawartha Lakes Marina & Cottage Resort www.kawarthalakesmarina.com 1-800-561-3625.
• Town Ramp (Anne & Front Streets) between Riverside Lodge & Gordon Yacht Harbour.
3. Bobcaygeon Area Launch Ramps – Sturgeon Lake
• Birch Point Marina www.birchpointmarina.com 705-738-2473
• Center Point Landing www.centrepointmarina.com 705-738-3463
• Sturgeon Lake Marina www.sturgeonlakemarina.com 888-793-1176
• Town Ramp (Beach Park, just west of Lock 32)
4. Yacht/Sailing Clubs
• Pigeon Lake Yacht Club www.pigeonlakeyachtclub.com
• Sturgeon Lake Sailing Club www.slsc.ca