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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 Kawartha Lakes’ Lindsay.

With a population just over 20,000, Lindsay is bigger than most Trail Towns. That means it serves as a major hub for Kawartha Lakes, a status it’s held for some time: downtown Kent St. is one of the widest in Ontario, having been designed to allow a four-horse hitch to turn around. You can see that heritage is in the beautiful facades of Kent St.’s many businesses, now lined with thriving modern shops.

Take for example the Olympia Restaurant. This local landmark has been an institution since 1906, and offers a Mediterranean-inspired menu including gluten-free and vegetarian options (reservations are recommended due to limited seating during Ontario’s Stage 3 reopening). Or try the Pie Eyed Monk Brewery, located just off Kent St. in the historic 1868 C.L. Baker Building. Order one of their craft brews on the patios and you’ll be in view of the 1902 red brick fire hall just across the street.

The blend of old and new is central to Lindsay’s appeal. Old Mill Park sits on the banks of the Scugog River just steps from downtown, and is built around the picturesque remnants of an 1869 property. The old mill, however, is more recent than Lock 33, which dates to 1844. Together, these highlights provide the perfect starting point for a stroll through the beautifully manicured trails and boardwalks along the Scugog.

If you’re planning a trip to Lindsay down the road, some temporarily closed destinations offer virtual exhibits to whet your appetite. The Kawartha Art Gallery is dedicated to promoting the arts in the local community, and often features young artists alongside more established ones. The Olde Gaol Museum, meanwhile, affords another window into Ontario life in the 19th century. The museum remained closed at the time of writing due to Covid-19 precautions, you can still view their virtual exhibits here and check the homepage for updates on the reopening plan.

Temporary Covid-19 closures may sound familiar by now, but movie buffs will be glad to know Lindsay still offers a fun and exciting way to catch movies on the big screen. The Lindsay Drive-In screens new and old films beginning at dusk, in a unique format some younger visitors may never have experienced. The Drive-In has even done live concerts, providing a venue for performing artists as well. If you’re visiting during the daylight hours on a Saturday, the Lindsay Farmer’s Market sells delicious local food as well as artisan products like soap, jewelry, and wooden furniture.

A boy stands with a bushel of corn next to the Lindsay Farmers' Market sign

For those looking to explore the outdoors, Lindsay provides as well. Lock 33 separates Sturgeon Lake and Scugog Lake, both known for their abundant bass, muskie, and walleye. Hikers can begin their local explorations at Ken Reid Conservation Area just outside town, which offers 10 km of trail. Those same trails become excellent ski and snowshoe loops in winter. Cyclists will pass through Ken Reid as they head to or from fellow Trail Town Fenelon Falls along the Victoria Rail Trail. The VRT passes over a beautiful boardwalk and through peaceful car-free landscapes. For out-of-town cyclists who don’t feel like jumping in the car after a long ride, the local Days Inn & Suites is noted for its bike-friendliness.

With a rich past and a vibrant present, Lindsay deserves a spot on your Trail Town itinerary. Enjoy exploring Lindsay’s historic streets, and be sure to leave time to appreciate the quiet natural beauty of Kawartha Lakes too.


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