The Trent-Severn Waterway is a scenic 386 km stretch connecting Lake Ontario to Lake Huron. A National Historic Site of Canada, the Waterway naturally has a storied past, but today serves as a recreational attraction to the boaters, paddlers, cyclists, and other visitors drawn to explore its scenic, meandering route. Nestled along its length are a series of charming communities known as the Trent-Severn Trail Towns – in this post we’ll look at Peterborough & the Kawarthas’ Lakefield.
As soon as you arrive in Lakefield you can tell the town has a good thing going. Partly it’s the quaint main street, partly the elegance of its location along the banks of the Otonabee River. Taken altogether, there’s a surprising sophistication and variety to be found in this little community.
Walk the Lakefield Trail, which passes along the waterfront and by some of the town’s most fascinating historical properties, and you’ll get a good sampling of what makes it unique. The tour will take you past Lock 26, one of the few remaining manually operated locks along the Trent-Severn Waterway. At the other end of town, your walk will take you past the former home of acclaimed writer Margaret Laurence. The author of The Stone Angel spent her later years in Lakefield, inspiring the Lakefield Literary Festival. Her own literary precedents included Catherine Parr-Traill and Susanna Moodie, both foundational Canadian writers who called Lakefield home. Check out the Lakefield Historic Walking Guide for more historically significant hotspots.
If the literary backdrop inspires you, stop in at Happenstance Books & Yarns and pick up something by a local author. Happenstance also specializes in knitting and crocheting yarns, so they can provide everything you need for a cozy evening in. You might also drop in at The Chocolate Rabbit for some handmade chocolate truffles, though, for a touch of decadence. Or you could just bring a good book to the veranda of The Nutty Bean Café and grab something to pair with your read.
If your tastes run to more active pastimes, Lakefield’s got you covered too. Adventure Outfitters sells a variety of outdoor equipment and apparel as well as offering gear rentals. In warmer weather they can help you get out on the Otonabee in a canoe or kayak, and come winter they rent snowshoes and skis. For true winter sport enthusiasts, Lakefield is also home to the Ontario Speed Skating Oval. The Oval hosts public hours and special events like candlelight skates, and makes an excellent introduction to the sport if you haven’t tried speed skating before.
Cyclists also consider Lakefield something of a hub, as four out of six Peterborough and the Kawarthas Classics cycling routes pass through Lakefield. These quiet but well-maintained routes are as short as 45 or as long as 100 km, and all provide an excellent way to get the lay of the land. They pass through rolling agricultural landscapes and along treelined backroads that feel deeply rural. Consider fueling up with a butter tart of a scoop of Kawartha Dairy ice cream at Stuff’d Ice Cream, Bakery & Café before or after you ride out.
North of Lakefield the Otonabee River opens up into Katchewanooka Lake, where fishing fans can cast a line for walleye and bass. Katchewanooka is also known as an excellent carp fishery. Carp are known to fight hard, so sport fisherpeople looking for a satisfying challenge will find plenty to enjoy here. Lakefield Marina is located right at the mouth of the lake and offers extensive boating amenities.
Work up an appetite exploring Lakefield and the surrounding area, and you’ll find some excellent dining options. Cassis Bistro at 27 Queen St. serves mouth-watering French cuisine in a warm and inviting atmosphere. Craft beer enthusiasts will gravitate to The Canoe & Paddle, with its twenty draft taps and satisfying pub fare just steps from the Otonabee.
After a full day, you might conclude your tour with a walk around Lakefield Park. You’ll pass Lakefield’s public beach and end up in Imagine the Marsh Conservation Area, which features a floating boardwalk and a two-level viewing tower. It makes for a terrific place to watch the sunset and reflect on time well spent exploring this unique Ontario community.