You did NOT complete the Trent-Severn Waterway, or Who the hell enjoys EDM?

The vast majority of Loopers cruise the fabulous Trent-Severn Waterway through an awesome little piece of Ontario.  Generally they start in Trenton and end in Port Severn and then tell all their friends that they ran the entirety of it.  Hell, until two weeks ago we were two of those sadly mistaken Loopers who told our friends that we’d done the entirety of it.  False.  Because there’s a six-mile stretch of canal between the Bay of Quinte and Lake Ontario that only a very small subset of weirdo Loopers—i.e., those who aren’t heading to Port Severn but still go out of their way to Trenton anyway because someone has to catch a plane in Toronto and realized too late that there’s no place to dock in Toronto so needed to find a train station—would have any reason to transit.

So NOW we’ve done the whole thing.

And it was pretty cool, except for the pushy dude in the little SeaRay who unsuccessfully tried to bully and then deceive the Carrying Place Bridge bridgemaster into letting him through without us, even though we were only a few minutes behind.  That dipshit was not cool.

The Brighton Road Bridge bridgemaster doubles as the Brighton Road Bridge toll-collector, because everyone who wants brag about doing the entire Trent-Severn Waterway—or who just wants to take a shortcut home—has to put their $5.25 in the cup as they pass by.

Except us.  We foiled the nice lady with the cup by showing our Parcs Canada season pass, and felt very accomplished by doing so.

Then on out into Lake Ontario, where not even a gazillion non-photogenic birds could interrupt a great day for traveling.

Cobourg—where we stopped for two nights—is known as “the gem of Lake Ontario,” at least to the good people of Cobourg.  We won’t argue.  Cobourg is right up there with some of our favorite stops.  Cobourg has everything.

Cobourg has a nice little marina.  Sheltered harbor.  Deep water.  No weeds.

Cobourg Harbour also once was home to an America’s Cup challenger, although we concede that would be far more impressive had it occurred more recently than 1876.

Cobourg has a beach, which the locals say gets clogged with Toronto riff-raff on the weekends but looked pleasant enough during our stay.

Cobourg has a small downtown filled with delicious restaurants we both enjoyed, and cool little shops—including a treasure-filled bookstore—that Dana enjoyed alone while Doug did important stuff that didn’t involve little shops.  Heck, they even timed the street market to coincide with our visit.  That never happens.

Cobourg has a stately old building.  Victoria Hall serves as both the town hall and a live performance venue that next month is featuring a musical about that precocious troublemaker Matilda.

Cobourg has an iconic statue, although it’s not labeled and our waitress drew a blank despite living in Cobourg for six years.  Even an exhaustive five-minute internet search whilst waiting for our tacos yielded no explanation for it.  We still like the dude.

Cobourg has a remarkably-niche museum featuring Canadian female film trailblazers from a century ago, a full 33.3% of whom we recognized.  By name only, of course, because the place was closed so we couldn’t see any photos.

Cobourg has this contraption, which is as mysterious as the statue but will come in way more handy if the future is anything remotely Mad Max-like.

But, some might ask, what about pickleball?  Yup.  Indoor and outdoor courts.

So even though we’d be the only Americans in town, basically we’d move to Cobourg except (1) our thirty years of physiological Arizona conditioning means that at about 55° our blood turns the viscosity of cured concrete, and (2) it’s against the law for Canadians to sell or rent homes to people with our well-documented opinion of poutine.  But dang, Cobourg is a great place to visit.

By leave-the-dock time Friday morning, the fog that first rolled over Lake Ontario Wednesday afternoon was gone, which is a good thing, because we’re a tad fuzzy on the appropriate horn sequence when traveling through it.  Crystal clear day all the way to Whitby.

And by golly we needed to get to Whitby.  Because there’s a Home Depot relatively near the marina and Doug dismantled the galley faucet on Thursday only to find that the replacement assembly he bought needed adaptors and profanity.

The only real excitement on the trip was when the Canadian Coast Guard started asking folks to help a boat on fire in Lake Erie, when Red Devil hustled to help rescue two paddle boarders but was aced out by some unnamed interloper, and when Kenny reported that ten-year-old Cole had just caught his first salmon.  A 28 pounder, which is a big fish no matter how old you are.   About an hour after the south wind started driving three- and four-foot Lake Ontario waves into our port side, we ducked into Port Whitby.

Whitby really was just a functional stop, not an exploration stop.  Which is a good thing because Port Whitby is a boatyard without much around.  On our gritty Home Depot walk we passed by the Whitby Rail Maintenance Facility, however, so we now know where passenger cars are painted.  Which isn’t much but it’s something.

Saturday brought another long travel day, this time to the industrial city of Hamilton.  We know what people in the rest of Ontario think about Hamilton, because every time we mentioned we were going there, they invariably said “Why would you go to Hamilton?  Hamilton sucks.”  By the time we heard that enough times for it to sink in, however, we’d already paid the non-refundable dockage fee.  Oh well, throw on some George Strait and let’s go.

No radio drama on the trip across the west end of Lake Ontario.   Nobody reported a crisis.  Nobody reported a fish.  Beautiful weather.  Smooth water.  About the only thing of significance was passing Toronto.

At 1,815 feet the The CN Tower was the world’s tallest tower for a bunch of years.  There’s an annual fundraiser that involves racing up 1776 steps to the main observation deck.  The record is just under eight minutes.  That’s just absurd.  Because we had limited time when we went up a few days ago, we decided to save seven minutes by taking the high-speed elevator with the other schlubs.

Canada’s busiest commercial seaport is in Hamilton, protected by the Burlington Canal Lift Bridge.

Just before the bridge we passed Hamilton Beach.  Which would’ve been great if we needed a crockpot or a toaster oven.

Since we didn’t need any kitchen appliances we went on under the bridge with a zillion other boats.

Hamilton being an important seaport and all, big ships were scattered about the bay amongst the sailboats.

The HMCS Haida—which Parcs Canada touts as “the Royal Canadian Navy’s most famous ship”—is a decommissioned destroyer operating as a museum around the corner from Harbour West Marina.  She sank more WWII surface tonnage than any other Canadian warship.  Since Hamilton also mostly was a one-night pit stop we took a picture on the way by but didn’t go visit.

There’s not much within walking distance of the marina, but we did stop at a convenience store run by a guy from England.  Turns out he loves and carries Dana’s favorite chocolate, which is hard to find on this side of the Atlantic.  He had 25 of them in stock.  Dana bought them all.

The Hamilton highlight was when John and Jenn from Salty Rose stopped by with margaritas.  Great folks.  Not Loopers.  The Hamilton lowlight was the God-awful electronic dance “music” from the rave at the park with the Canadian flag about two hundred feet off our stern.  It was thumping when we arrived at 3 and thumped nonstop until nearly midnight.  But hey, the marina is nice enough.

After her morning run, Dana reported that in fact the non-industrial bits of Hamilton are far more enjoyable than the naysayers led us to anticipate.  But right now we’re on our way to Fifty Point Conservation Area, which promises to be a tad more scenic and quiet.

Toronto is no Kingston, bless its heart

Last time through Kingston we mostly focused on the miserable heat index and mosquito plague.  This year the weather allowed for a bit more, so like René-Bob de La Salle—the Frenchman who explored not only this area but also travelled the Mississippi River and founded Louisiana and thus simultaneously is responsible for delicious gumbo and, as we’ve previously noted, the societal abomination that is Ed Orgeron—we set out across Kingston on a mission of discovery.  Starting at Confederation Basin, where we could see Shoal Tower from our back porch.

Shoal Tower was part of a geographically-remote defense system related to the dispute over whether modern-day Washington state should or should not be on the American side of the border.  Several of these mini-forts—technically called Martello towers—dot the area but never saw action, undoubtedly because the British anticipated the emergence of grunge rock music in Seattle and decided they wanted no part of it.  But the towers look cool.

Across the river from the marina is Point Frederick, which was home to a primary British naval base during and after the War of 1812.  Now it’s home to the Royal Military College, where we walked through the imposing pedestrian entrance. 

The campus is cool and all, with a much friendlier vibe than, say, West Point.

That said, we still can’t wrap our heads around the fact that Canadians—with their unrelenting politeness and Tim Hortons and back bacon and disgusting poutine—somehow remain subject to the snooty British monarchy.

Fort Henry sits along the Lake Ontario shoreline with a nice view of Point Frederick, which is helpful since its main purpose was to protect the naval base.

Because there’s no need to protect the Royal Military College—and  because two-hundred-year-old cannons that lob aerodynamically awkward metal balls likely wouldn’t scare a modern enemy of the Crown—it’s just a museum now.   With a secret cannon burial ground that we found by sneaking back to the employee entrance.

Most interesting—and confusing—is that Fort Henry still proudly flys the Union Jack.

Back closer to Tumbleweed we passed the plaque for Fort Frontenac.

This French outpost, used during skirmishes with British and Iroquois, would date back to 1673 except there’s nothing left of it.

Not far from there but a hundred years later, the British “purchased from the Mississaugas for some clothing, ammunition and coloured cloth a large tract of land” that now encompasses a huge amount of valuable Lake Ontario waterfront property.

One might feel sorry for the Mississaugas for the raw deal, except they apparently decided to rely on a Zillow valuation rather than get a real appraisal, so had to live with it.  Plus they probably looked very sharp at the powwows in their fancy colorful clothes.

The coolest building in Kingston has to be City Hall, one of the zillion National Historic Sites we’ve been lucky to see.  We had no business to conduct with the city so didn’t go in.

Perhaps confirming our shallowness, all it took for us to reevaluate our view of Kingston was better weather.  We were able to walk around, see the sights, enjoy what TripAdvisor identified as the two best restaurants in town, and play some pickleball.

The city even compensates for the lack useable Wi-Fi by scattering colorful—which loosely translates to “colourful” in this British Commonwealth—muskoka chairs all about.

The bottom line is that we’ve completely changed our opinions, with Ottawa now dropping to the bottom of our list of favorite—which apparently means “favourite” up here—Canadian cities.  That’s even despite the rain that set in on Monday.

Actually the rain nearly was a blessing, because it provided a second opportunity to find a theater—which these pseudo-Brits call a “theatre”—showing Top Gun: Maverick.  This time it wasn’t in French.  However, after getting online tickets we concluded the rain was too much to overcome.  Strike two.

Tuesday morning was windy, but either our tolerance has increased or our good judgment has decreased so we headed off on the long trip to Trenton.  Long days underway are tough for eating.  One of us ate a banana for for breakfast.  One of us enjoyed Mountain Dew and Doritos for breakfast.*  But at least it wasn’t raining.  In fact, it was gorgeous even with the wind.

Back past the bird island, from which the wind blew double-crested cormorant stench right into our pilothouse.  Yuck.

Through the zig-zaggy Bay of Quinte.  Back past Mallory Bay and Shannonville, named for our awesome daughters.  Past the ferries.  A windy day on the bay means every clown with a sailboat feels entitled—if not obligated—to get in our way.  At least this guy made up for it by having a quite pleasing colourful sail for us to admire.

Then on into Trenton, where the AGLCA harbor hosts aboard Tropical Horizons II photo-documented our arrival.

Wait, did someone say Trenton?  Trenton is the “Gateway to the Trent-Severn Waterway.”  We’re not doing the Trent-Severn again.  So what the hell are we doing in Trenton?

The plan was to go from Kingston to Cobourg to Toronto, where Dana needed to catch a plane for a quick trip to Austin for her mother’s birthday celebration.  Happy Birthday Linda!  Except Toronto sucks for transients with large power boats.  So we had to find a place where she could catch a train to Toronto.  And we didn’t want to stay in Kingston.  So by default, we ended up back at Trent-Port Marina, which is a-okay by us because it’s solid joint in a solid town, even if (1) we fully explored Trenton during our extended stay four years ago and (2) the weather just turned hot and humid.

Trenton is home to the largest Royal Canadian Air Force base.

Given the location, however, it’s not surprising that CFB Trenton mostly is used to support military efforts elsewhere.  Which explains the Boeing C-17 Globemasters hauling stuff right over us every day.

Otherwise Trenton is a nice quiet town.  Unless you’re staging for the waterway, there’s not too much going on.  Except for that one weekend, that glorious first weekend every May, when it’s walleye-to-walleye excitement.

Incidentally, some skeptics might think the commentary about Canadian goose poop in our last post was exaggerated.  It wasn’t.

On Wednesday, Dana caught the train from Trenton to Toronto at Trenton Junction.**

In the course of two days her trip required planes, trains, and automobiles, but also a boat and a shuttle bus, unintentionally two-upping Neal Page in the process.***  Doug stayed behind with a fun and exciting list of boat chores, some of which actually got done.

On Sunday, Doug also boarded the train to Toronto at The Junction.****  The wait for Dana to return from Texas provided a golden opportunity to spends a few hours at Le Temple de la Renommée du Hockey.  The Hockey Hall of Fame.  The epicenter of the most Canadian thing in the world other than maybe poutine and goose poop.  The special exhibit “9 & 99” is awesome but the entire place really is extra cool, even for someone who considers hockey a distant fourth in major sports, just ahead of cricket.

The other most Canadian thing is putting a Tim Hortons next to the Temple.

Horton—whose actual name was Miles—is a Hall of Famer and all, but every experience we’ve ever had at one of his namesake restaurants has ended with self-recriminations for being stupid.  No offense to our Canadian friends, but Tim Hortons are as gross as something so gross you’d use it in a really exaggerated simile.

Now some other Toronto stuff.  Like the Old City Hall.

According to Wikipedia, when the thing was completed in 1899 it was “the largest civic building in North America.”  We’re dubious.  Because it doesn’t look nearly as large as, say, the U.S. Capitol Building.  It’s possible that we’re wrong, of course.  It’s also possible that some Tim Hortons-loving Canadian fudged the Wikipedia page.  Either way, it’s another of the cool old buildings we like to admire.

But here’s the sad truth.  Toronto looks like a fun city to live in, but overall it’s not that great for tourists looking for historical stuff.  In part that’s because—unlike the good people of Montreal and Quebec City who built their buildings out of brick—the folks in Toronto apparently never learned what happened to the Three Little Pigs.  Thus they built almost everything with sticks.  Which is why virtually the entire city burned down in 1849.  Then they rebuilt, again with sticks.  Which is why virtually the entire city burned down again in 1904.  So there aren’t that many old buildings to be visited by tourists like us.

Toronto may not have much left of historical significance, but that’s not to say we found little of interest.  For example, we’ve now referenced the under-appreciated classic Strange Brew in more than one post.  Elsinore Castle?  Filmed at Casa Loma.  We’re ashamed to admit that we didn’t visit the mansion—which the government stole from the owner, then used for secret war research, then leased as a Kiwanis clubhouse—but we did get sort of a photo from afar.

Also, Toronto is quite proud of its major university, which indeed is internationally renowned.  Not surprisingly, we have thoughts.  For starters, the University of Toronto has a gorgeous campus.

Which is why it’s also been used in a lot of movies.  Cocktail brought Tom Cruise up here.  Matt Damon was a math genius up here.  Lindsey Lohan became a Mean Girl at U of T as they call it, after she met herself at Camp Walden and got her parents back together by driving off evil Meredith Blake, but before she went all drunk and crazy.

Now about this “U of T” thing, which sounds enough like UT to startle us when we heard it.  We both agree that there’s only one real UT, although we don’t agree on which one it is.  But we know for damn sure the real UT ain’t the University of Toronto.  Adding insult to injury, the Varsity Blues even use a bastardized version of the Power T.  Somebody needs to be flogged and burned at the stake for that travesty.

We didn’t visit the provincial art gallery, but out front they did have a bizarre elephant, made of leather bags, standing on a brass ball.  We don’t get it.

Also murals.  Lots of murals.  This one is on the wide end of Toronto’s Flatiron Building, which supposedly has the most coveted office space in town.

Over at the Rogers Centre—which is Canadian for “Rogers Center”—a huge sculpture of Blue Jay fans in action is even more odd than a leather elephant balanced on a ball.

The Rogers Centre is at the base of the iconic Canadian National Tower, so named because the Canadian National Railway Company built it.

CN Tower is really tall, and it takes much more effort to go up and take a photo of downtown than, say, it would take to get the same photo by drone if there wasn’t a geofence around the city.  But we went up, because we’re tourists.  Turns out the effort was well worth it.

A few more things.  The Museum of Illusions was kind of interesting.  We participated.

The greatest illusion, however, was the one where fifty screaming snot-nosed kids in yellow camp shirts were supposed to disappear but then the counselors who were busy looking at Instagram on their phones decided to let the kids stay and run wild during our entire visit.

National Geographic says the St. Lawrence Market is the world’s best.  So of course we went.

Meh.  It’s huge and fine and all, but we’ll take the Jean-Talon Market in Montreal instead please.

So that about sums up Toronto, a nice city that saw most of its history burn down and thus clings to stuff of barely-marginal significance.

With that said, we’re glad we stopped by.

This afternoon’s train took us from Toronto’s Union Station back to Trenton and Tumbleweed.  Tomorrow we continue our counter-clockwise journey around Lake Ontario as we head towards new stuff on Lake Erie.


*“Junk food doesn’t deserve the bad rap that it gets.  Take these pork rinds for example.  This particular brand contains 2% of the R.D.A.—that’s ‘recommended daily allowance’—of Riboflavin.”
— Walter “Gib” Gibson

** Everybody sing along!  “Come ride the little train that is rollin’ down the tracks to the junction.”

***And there you have it: a single paragraph that, with footnotes included, seamlessly weaves together oblique references to a movie starring famous Ontarian John Candy and Petticoat Junction.  That’s got to be a first.

****“There’s a little hotel called the Shady Rest at the junction.”

Drop the curtain on the Rideau, or Back to the Great Lakes

The early bird catches the first lock, as the old saying goes.  Plus, not much left to see of Smiths Falls.  The Wednesday morning plan was to head up to the blue line at 8:30 for the first opening at 9, but then we saw that Dog House already was there, so we hustled around and pulled into the number two slot shortly after 7, which in turn triggered everyone else, and thus by 8 a bunch of Loopers were piled up at the Smiths Falls lock.  That’s Lock 31 for those scoring at home.

Waiting for two hours did give us time, however, to ponder a plot twist to the age-old question about roads and chickens.

Anyway, at 9:30 they put us through with Dog House while everyone else waited.  If we wanted to, we could post a cool photo at all 47 locks.  We don’t want to, but here’s one.

Remember all those cottagers from Georgian Bay?  They’re all here as well, although maybe not the same ones.  Damn near every island has a cottage.

We may or may not have mentioned that the two-year Covid-related Canadian border closure created enormous pressure, such that the opening this year released a stream of Loopers like water from a fire hose.  It’s all good for the Canadian economy and good for meeting great people, but not so good for finding parking spots.  The entire armada leaving Smiths Falls, for example, was headed to Westport, a touristy town with restaurants and shops and a small marina.  At the last minute we decided that a huge cluster of Loopers was one boat too many, so instead we headed to the Newboro Lock.

This stretch is crazy.  In the span of minutes we went from four hundred feet of water—which is like six hundred Canadian—to five feet.  The narrow and shallow stretch leading to Newboro, however, was as cool as anything we’ve seen by boat.

Not much social life at the lock, but damn picturesque.

Newboro isn’t at all touristy, but Newboro does have one thing the Westport Loopers missed out on.  That’s right.  The famous Newboro Loon, which we walked a full five-hundred yards to see in all its deteriorating glory.

Okay, it’s possible that the list we found about things to see in Newboro was a bit outdated.  But Newboro also has an indescribably bizarre and wonderful store that sells fudge and designer shoes and high-end furniture and books and wall art and kitchen implements and authorized gear from the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch.  Crazy, and pretty nondescript from the outside.

We actually thought about scootering the five miles to Westport to see everybody but then it looked like another downpour was looming, so nah.  When the rain settled in and the temperature dropped into the low 60s, we were much happier enjoying our view of the park in pajamas and fuzzy socks after hot showers than we would’ve been, say, scootering back five miles on a busy road whilst being pelted and mud puddled.  So basically we made two entirely different brilliant decisions to skip Westport.

And then it stopped raining and the lock was even extra cool.

Yesterday morning we woke up to loons making loon sounds and an awesome sunrise.  We know they were loon sounds because while we were enjoying the rain in our pajamas Wednesday evening, Dana pulled up some loon audio clips on her phone.  Even with no phone help we knew it was sunrise, because the sun was coming up.

Yesterday, just more fabulous countryside visible only by boat.

To any folks who think “Wow, these morons post a lot of pictures that look exactly the same,” tough noogies.  This actually is a very small sample of the ridiculous number of pictures we took that look exactly the same.  Because when you slowly pass cool stuff, you take pictures of it.

When we were last boating through Ontario, we commented on the ubiquity of LCBOs.  LCBOs come in handy when you need to buy alcohol, but dang, is there a law that every place with three residents has to have one?  This very small fishing camp not only has an LCBO, but also The Beer Store.  Yup, we love Ontario.

As we traveled south, we started seeing more and more swan families.

These are mute swans.  For obvious reasons Dana did not pull up any audio clips on her phone.*

Mute swans—as opposed to trumpeter swans—are considered an invasive nuisance up here because—among other things—they poop a lot.  Which is ironic since Canadian Geese not only stop traffic willy-nilly, they poop three times their own weight every four hours.  Okay maybe that’s not a scientific fact, but it looks that way when we’re trying to walk across grassy areas in Canada without sinking our shoes in the massive piles.

Wait what?  What the hell is corn doing in the middle of our gorgeous scenery?  One minute we’re enjoying a narrow jungle cruise and beautiful invasive waterfowl and the next minute we’re in frickin’ Iowa?

No offense to our dear Iowegian friends Sharon and Angie, but mercifully the cornfield either was a mirage or an anomaly and we quickly returned to Ontario and cool stuff like Dog and Cranberry Lake.

We tried to research how the name came to be but the best we can surmise is that there’s a Dog Lake and a Cranberry Lake and they’ve kind of morphed together, which doesn’t really explain either one.

Yesterday we planned to stop above Upper Brewer Lock, because they have hydro, which is what Canadians call electricity.  Except when we got there we discovered that each pole only had one 30A outlet, and thus our reverse-Y wouldn’t work, so we went to the bottom of Lower Brewer Lock and parked under a huge willow tree instead.  Which was even better.

And which also set up a short run to Kingston.  Meaning the last of the 47 locks, which is a lot of locks.

Well here’s a plucky dude, peddling around the lake.  On one hand he’s got a canopy and a coffee mug, but it still looks like a lot of work.

Then we met a Dude with a capital D, waiting on the blue line.  We took some photos for him when he shoved off.  Ryan is paddling, by himself, all the way to Ottawa, catching fish to eat and camping along the way.  It doesn’t look like he has air conditioning, or a refrigerator, or even canopy.

With hindsight and Ryan for context, pontoon-guy is kind of a wuss.  Probably had potato salad in his basket.

Then on into Kingston and Lake Ontario and a reunion with Confederation Basin.

Which means we’ve done the entire historic Rideau Waterway.**

Check that bad boy off the to-do list.  Now let’s see if Kingston is more enjoyable than last time.  Last time it was hot and muggy and mosquitoey and miserable.  Kind of like Oklahoma, except not ugly.

We’ll be here all weekend.


*We know, we know.  Mute swans aren’t actually mute.  It’s a joke.

**Special thanks to the hundreds of guys who died of malaria and construction accidents before the locks were completed in 1832, just so the canal could become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and we could cruise through it.  Some of those guys were from regiments of Royal Sappers and Miners, which sounds like a fun bunch.

Yup, so far this waterway through Ontario is okay by us

First off, Ottawa is Canada’s capitol city, which probably makes it really interesting to Canadians.  We confess to being a tad underwhelmed, however, because we’ve been to Quebec City, and Montreal, and Halifax, and Calgary, etc.  That said, we did manage to see some stuff.

At first glance, this might appear to be a photo of Parliament Hill, where the Canadian legislature plans to fully return after renovations are done.  In 2028.

Back around 1815 they planned to build a huge fort on the hill to protect the city from dirty Americans, but such an attack never came, probably because the Americans concluded that a people who are nice and polite and eat poutine don’t pose much military risk.  But it’s not a photo of Parliament Hill. It’s actually a photo of yet another one of those absurdly unseaworthy tiki bar boats and the first eight of the 47 locks on the Rideau Canal.

Speaking of buildings that might fall down any second, we passed 24 Sussex both by boat and by foot.  24 Sussex is the address of the Prime Minister’s magnificent official residence.

Except Justin Trudeau can’t live there, because it’s falling apart.  True story.    It’s also true that the name of the joint is “Gorffwysfa,” which sounds like a middle-earth mountain where Bilbo Baggins might fight dragons.  But it does look cool.

The Governor General—who is Queen Elizabeth’s representative and thus attends all the Royal Parties and such—has a much better home with the much better name “Rideau Hall,” located just down the street from Justin’s dump.*  There’s a nice statue that appears to be of a horse named Elizabeth II in front of the entrance.

In 1613, Samuel de Champlain—who we’ve discussed at length before—spotted a waterfall just past where the Prime Minister would live if he didn’t fear a roof collapse.  Proving to be far more original than whatever copycat serially used “Bridal Veil,”  Champlain named the waterfall “Rideau,”—which apparently is French for “curtain”—and thereby also named a river, a canal, and the Governor General’s house, among other things.

Here’s the Royal Canadian Mint, which pumps out loonies and toonies, which in turn makes us jealous because American coins don’t have fun nicknames.  Plus, we don’t even have a $2 coin.  Do we?

Because we’re damn classy people despite what our blog might suggest—or possibly because the giant spider lured us—we also visited the National Gallery of Canada.

Very cool stuff inside.  Like a completely relocated chapel.  And giant pills, the reason for which wasn’t immediately apparent.

And among other things the walls were hung with Monets, Renoirs, and Picassos, by Van Gogh.**

On one stroll around town we passed the Spanish Ambassador’s house, which only is significant to us because the Spanish Ambassador’s son Pepito is a Bad Hat.

Anyway, we saw a bunch of other cool stuff and the canal at night from our bow was awesome but then it was time to leave.

Sunday morning, we headed roughly south.  Yup, the canal is awesome in daylight too.

In the winter the canal freezes over and becomes a huge ice-skating rink.  We’re sure that’s neat and all, but we’ll be in shorts and t-shirts playing pickleball at Cholla Park, thank you very much.

This may look like just another bridge, but it’s the Heron Road Bridge, which more technically is the “Heron Road Workers Memorial Bridge.”

It’s a bridge, but also a memorial, because nine dudes were killed when a chunk of it collapsed during construction in 1966.  Some were buried in wet concrete, which has to be a horrible way to go.

Although portions of the Rideau Canal are, well, canals, the waterway also is full of scenic lakes and spectacular stretches of the Rideau River.


At one point we popped out of a lock into traumatic flashbacks of Maine lobster-pot minefields.

Turns out it was some sort of paddling competition, because a guy with a bullhorn advised all of us boaters that there were “athletes on the course.”

Hey look!  Another “beach.”

This is a first.  We greatly admire anyone willing to sacrifice a good hat for the sake of being funny.

Quick stop Sunday night in the weeds at Hurst Marina, where we bottomed out but somehow made it up to the cute restaurant without sucking anything into the strainer.

Yesterday was a pretty easy run down to Smiths Falls.  And just pretty as well.

We’ve now done something close to two-hundred locks, but stopping in the middle of the road is novel.

At one corner we rounded upon what looked like smoke from a forest fire.  Almost made us homesick for Arizona, but then we remembered it was 74°, so nah.

A brief moment to recognize the Parcs Canada workers—mostly college kids—who operate the locks and bridges the same way college kids have been doing it for a couple of hundred years.  All by hand.  No touchy electronic controls to go haywire just as we’re in harms way.

Wait, did someone mention loonies?  Dana bagged a real one, not the one on the $1 coin.

This part of the waterway is farm country.  The silos give it away.

Then on in to Smiths Falls.  Smiths Falls is the “Crossroads of the Rideau,” because the river met the railroad which met the road and led to grist mills and tractor manufacturing and such.  The actual falls aren’t as impressive as, say, the Rideau Falls or the Chute Montmorency we passed in Quebec a few summers ago, but with Tumbleweed as a background it’s still photo-worthy.

The best part of Smiths Falls was catching up with New Horizon, who we last saw at Coeymans south of Albany.  They’re heading the other way, back to Massachusetts, so this probably was the last time we’ll all discuss tea.

Because today there was a “Severe Thunderstorm Warning” with a 100% chance of wind and rain, we decided to stay put for a pedicure and oil change, which only the one of us who now sports pretty toenails enjoyed.   At one point it looked like the weather apocalypse was approaching so we dashed back to the boat from town to avoid a certain drenching.

Meh.  It didn’t even rain before the sun popped back out.  At that point all our weather apps said 0% chance of rain.

But then it started raining.  Hard.  And kept at it for two hours.

Tomorrow we face more locks and shallow spots and narrow spots and insanely gorgeous bits of Ontario.  It’s not supposed to rain any more for the foreseeable future.  Which means exactly nothing.


*Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary  Simon serves “at the pleasure of Her Majesty,” which is very British, and also may be one of the reasons French-Canadians are testy.  When we asked our twenty-something waitress what the Governor General actually does, she basically said “Hubbada hubbada I don’t recall much from grade six social studies.”  The tour guide at Rideau Hall didn’t really do much better.  All she could add is that the Governor General signs documents for the Queen and ceremonially opens sessions of Parliament.

**Credit to Woody Allen for “Picassos, by Van Gogh.”

Don’t feed the monkeys

This abbreviated post mostly is about the Ottawa Locks spectacle, or as we call it, the Giant Pain in The Butt.

This flight of locks promised to be challenging but fun, with a bevy of on-lookers admiring all the pretty boats going up and up and up.  At the end of this post lives a 98-second video of all eight locks, taken with the mistaken belief that mounting the GoPro facing backwards would produce an awesome look down.  Meh.  But first, we had to get to Ottawa.

Yesterday was a brilliant travel day, in both the British and the American sense of the word.

Mostly smooth.   Mostly cloudless.  Reasonably cool.  Totally awesome.  Not much to see, however, although along the Ottawa River there’s what in Canada counts as a beach.

Then on into Hull Marina, which technically is our last stop in Quebec but it’s basically in Ontario, just like Liberty Landing technically is in New Jersey but it’s basically in New York.

The idea was to get over to the blue line for the 9 a.m. first lock through.  Yeah, about that.  The good news is that we avoided the buses.

The bad news is that eight boats beat us there.  Boats were rafted.  Boats were on the red line, which is reserved for ferries and such.  Well this sucks.

As a result, we waited nearly two hours and the trip to the top took us nearly three hours, the combination of which sapped all of our desire to explore Canada’s Capitol.  Ken from Nice Goin’ took a picture that made it look like we were having fun—and we put on a happy face for the tourists who lined the enclosure where we were on display like zoo animals—but mostly it was just hard work.

We ended up on the wall with no shore power, but that’s become the new normal so no big deal.

The other thing is that today most of Canada has been without internet, crippling much of the economy.  True fact.  So restaurants and shops either are closed or only taking cash.  And our supply of money with Queen Elizabeth on it is very limited.

Anyway, it took some doing to figure out the GoPro again so we might as well include the video.

Next post will include some tidbits about Ottawa.  Maybe they’ll even be interesting.