Saturday, June 7, 2014

RIDEAU CANAL CRUISE - DAY FOUR


We slipped at the end of breakfast today with the sun shining and the prospect of a hot day. The air was calm and the water had barely a ripple.

Everyone told me this was the most scenic and interesting day of the five. And so it was. Down a narrow cut that was dynamited out of the granite bedrock, the channel looks natural today. But the construction was hazardous with many losing their lives or limbs, and others dying of malaria. I saw Ospreys nesting along the cut's banks and turtles plopping into the water from deadfalls.

The stream is running south to Kingston now and we are sailing in the Canadian Shield that juts down here. Our first lock was Newboro that leads us into Newboro Lake, the first natural lake in the system that did not have to be flooded. It is dotted with 90 islands left here by the retreating glaciers in the Ice Age.  Another narrow channel takes us into Clear Lake and on into Indian Lake. These are very different from the lakes above Westport. No reed beds or wetlands, many more species, and lots of pleasure boaters. It's beautiful. We passed the old chain-operated ferry between Scott
Island and the mainland and slid under a low bridge that meant the radars and wheelhouse, and the canopy over the sun deck had to be lowered.



Everyone eagerly awaited our approach to Chaffeys Lock, considered one of the most picturesque on the waterway. It was busy with boats sailing north and south. We stopped for a while here after locking through, and I visited the museum that records the history of the lock and its lock keepers. There is a hotel here too that dates from the time of pleasure steamers in the late 1800s.



From here, during lunch, we entered Opinicon Lake, which was created by the flooding during the canal's construction. Davis lock opens into Sand Lake also with islands and then into a channel leading to Jones Falls, its huge dam, and four locks.

I hopped off Kawartha Voyageur and took the walk to see the dam. This was a marvel in its day — the biggest arched masonry dam in N. America at 350 feet long and 62 feet high. It still stands unchanged as it was in 1828 and it was built with manpower alone. The massive stones were quarried miles away and brought by horse and cart to the site. If you listen at one end of the dam when someone talks at the other, you can hear them and talk back.

Then I walked down forested trail to the road that leads to Hotel Kenney at the foot of the lock flight and met the ship alongside for the night. The entertainment is provided tonight by the crew.



The sun shone all day, no one had to wear a sweater, and the light was superb.


IMAGES: © Photos by Pharos 2014. All rights reserved