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A 386-kilometre scenic stretch connecting Lake Huron to Lake Ontario, and a National Historic Site of Canada commemorating nearly 200 years of history — the Trent-Severn Waterway has some major claims to fame. In 2019 the Waterway added another chapter to its story with the launch of the Trent-Severn Waterway Trail Town program, an innovative initiative designed to link communities and introduce new visitors to the Waterway’s charms.

Officially unveiled on August 22 at Ranney Falls Locks 11/12 in Campbellford, the project received the support of Northumberland—Peterborough South MP Kim Rudd and MPP David Piccini, as well as representatives of Parks Canada, Kawartha Lakes Tourism, Peterborough and the Kawarthas Tourism, and Northumberland County Tourism. Also in attendance was consultant Amy Camp, celebrated for launching the US-based Trail Town program which served as a model. Camp’s input was vital in identifying and creating the resources that will fuel the ‘Towns, such as the “trail friendly” stickers that will guide visitors to associated small businesses.

Nine communities have signed up to date, with more expected to join as the program picks up steam. The roster of Trail Towns at launch time includes Coboconk, Rosedale, Fenelon Falls, Lindsay, Bobcaygeon, Buckhorn, Lakefield, Hastings, and Campbellford. The Trent-Severn Waterway may not be a trail in the conventional sense, but it is the thread that unites the vibrant, inviting, eclectic towns along its length. Recreational boaters have long enjoyed cruising the Waterway, and Trail Towns represent a new way to engage with and explore it.

One of the initiative’s goals is to highlight year-round attractions, so a few of the Trail Towns have already launched their own themed take on that perennial favourite dessert, the butter tart.  Diehard will want to sample the five varieties thus far which include offerings from Buckhorn’s Lock Stop Café, Fenelon Falls’ Kawartha Shortbread, Bobcaygeon’s Kawartha Coffee Company, Hastings Bridgewater Café and Lakefield’s Stuff’d Ice Cream, Bakery & Café. Camp hopes this is the first wave of Trail Town-connected delicacies, with more unique dishes to follow.

It’s early days yet, so look for more Trail Town content in the weeks and months ahead. In the meantime, the ‘Towns are already perfect destinations for day trips or overnight stays. Cross Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge in Campbellford, cast a line in Hastings’ internationally renowned fishing waters, explore into the history of the TSW’s first lock in Bobcaygeon, or camp waterside in a Parks Canada oTENTik in Rosedale. Trail Towns offer a way to get to know a region as a whole, and serve as a jumping off point for explorations of the wealth of natural, culinary, artistic, and historical attractions in Kawarthas Northumberland.

Visit TSWTrailTowns.ca for more info on each community, and stay tuned for fresh announcements on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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