Historic BackgroundOntario's lakes and rivers have supported and enhanced mans travel since the glaciars receeded leaving behind the lake and rivers. Native Americans used the waters of the Kawartha Lakes extensivly within their culture and commerce as long ago as 11,000 years. Near Burleigh Falls is Petroglyphs Provincial Park where the largest collection of Native rock carvings in Canada are to be found. Further south along the shores of Rice Lake precontact burial mounds at Serpent Mounds Provincial Park provides archaeological evidence of the early significance of the region.
Then came the white man, and early traders around the 17th Century when these waters, now the Trent-Severn Waterway provided access for fur traders. Prince Edward County and the upper Trent were important Huron centres in the trade with the French. In true european colonization form Samuel de Champlain used the waters as the highway for his Huron allies to move south from Georgian Bay to attack the Iroquois on the south shore of Lake Ontario in 1615.
Creation of the Trent Severn Waterway
The dream of building an inland navigation route from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay took 87 years to become a reality. It began in the heart of the Kawarthas at Bobcaygeon. Settlers anxious for a waterway, which would provide access to lucrative southern markets, pressured for the building of a small wooden lock in 1833. Construction of the waterway continued until navigation was possible in 1920.
Recreational Use of the Trent Severn Waterway
The 1920 the entire waterway opened to small boat traffic, marking the begining of one of the provinces principal recreational waterways. This was the day of the flapper and those wonderfull steam launches. During the 1930s Ontario recreation seekers found the Kawarthas, Rice Lake, and Lake Simcoe. Some of the original conservationist groups sparred with fish and game clubs, and boaters held ellegant regattas. Passanger steamboats departed railway terminals at Lakefield and Lindsay to ferry vacation seekers throughout the Kawarthas to the new summer resorts.