Lock 34 - Fenelon FallsCommemorating 100 (+1) years of through-navigation on the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site of Canada

By Daniel Post

Introduction

On July 3, 1920, the motor launch Irene left Trenton at Lake Ontario's shores and began its journey north through the Trent-Severn Waterway's completed system of interconnected rivers, lakes and locks. The ship would have cruised gently past rolling Ontario countryside, peeked around countless enchanting river bends, passed right through the heart of booming waterfront communities, and crossed nine separate watersheds before arriving at Port Severn on Lake Huron a little over two weeks later on July 20. Irene would've been heading the same direction (roughly speaking) as the retreating glaciers that carved the riverbeds 11,000 years ago and the same routes that Indigenous people have paddled since time immemorial. The crew would've looked out upon the same scenery that French explorers had described, as Indigenous people guided them into the wild landscapes for their first time.

A century later and the Trent-Severn Waterway has changed immeasurably. And yet, it remains, in so many ways, exactly the same.

  

Commemorating history

The new century of navigation had a rough time leaving the dock last season in the grip of the global pandemic, but in 2021 Parks Canada is finding ways for boaters to help commemorate this historic milestone and usher in the next hundred years of boating on the Trent-Severn Waterway (TSW). For some, that might look like planning your very first visit to the TSW this season. Now seems like the perfect time to chart a new course to discover a homegrown cruising vacation. For others, it means learning a little bit more about the past and diving into this place's rich history.

 

Whichever way you choose to celebrate your connection to the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site this season, Parks Canada invites you to come aboard as they share stories and memories with the community throughout the year. Here a few ways to join in:

#TSW101

Some of the best exchanges on the TSW during the past hundred years have taken place between new friends at the locks and with the veteran lock staff they meet along the way. Today, we're lucky to bring that same spirit of canal community to social media, where we can all share information and memories like never before. This year, whether you're snapping selfies, or blogging on Facebook about your family's history, don't forget to tag #TSW101 and @TrentSevernNHS to share your story with us all.

Lock 36 - Kirkfield

 Lock 36 - Kirkfield

Trent Severn 101 website

Parks Canada has created an online home for the Trent-Severn Waterway's 101 commemorations and are hard at work on a few cool virtual tools to help you connect with history. Visit the Trent-Severn Waterway's 101 webpage throughout the season to learn more about upcoming virtual visits to the locks and other ways to connect yesteryear with today.

www.parkscanada.gc.ca/trent-severn-101

Taste of the TSW

Lock 42 - CouchichingAny good Captain worth their salt knows that a box of baked goods on board makes the trip that much sweeter. To commemorate long-standing connections with the waterway, participating Trent-Severn Trail Towns along the TSW will be offering up unique culinary delights in honour of the 101. Look for the 'Taste of the TSW' sign in local businesses' windows in Campbellford, Hastings, Lakefield, Buckhorn, Bobcaygeon, Fenelon Falls, Coboconk, Rodesale and Lindsay, or visit www.TSWTrailTowns.ca for complete details.

Lock 42 - Couchiching

CONCLUSION

The essence of an unforgettable trip along the Trent-Severn Waterway is as much the same today as it was for Irene, though much has happened here since 1920, to be sure. Today it is operated and protected under the stewardship of Parks Canada. It has grown into itself as a unique piece of our culture and one of the only historic sites in the country still in operation as it was originally used – for commerce, tourism, and connecting communities. Throughout time, as towns and villages along the water have continued to grow around the lockstations at their heart, welcoming visitors also arriving by land to come and picnic, bike or hike along their shores, one constant has remained: boaters are not just experiencing the TSW, they animate it.

 

Travel with Parks Canada deep into the archives this season

It is a tremendous privilege we enjoy in this part of the world - to have such a connection to our past. So the next time you're locking-through, pay attention to the inner lock walls and how the high water mark covers the stone like the geological story of us over time. Wave to the folks on shore, chat with the Parks Canada team members and become a part of the next 100 years.

Lockmasters House 400  Man and mechanism 400

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep your eye out for history waiting around every corner ofthe TSW

TrentTug 400 the Trent Tug is the icon of Parks Canada's TSW 101 season. Look for the symbol on commemorative flags hung at your favourite lockstations.

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