Adventures with Parents, Scots and Houseboats

peterborough lift lock

I just got home from what was supposed to be a relaxing week cruising up and down the waterways north of Toronto with my parents and their two visiting friends from Scotland. The reality wasn’t quite as laid back as the brochure, but it was an experience I won’t forget anytime soon… and right here in my backyard in Canada, no less!

I am one of those people who figures that travelling in my home country (and the US as well) can wait until I’m older. It’s in my backyard, I can do it anytime, it’s not that culturally exciting blah blah blah. The usual excuses. But when my parents arranged to rent a houseboat with a couple of visiting friends from Scotland and it was looking like I would be home for the trip, I weasled my way on board and was pretty excited to see what this Canada place has to offer.

We started our trip near a town called Bobcageon a couple hours north-ish of Toronto and planned to work our way down the Trent-Severn Waterway through a series of locks to Peterborough where there is a contraption I didn’t even know existed: a giant lift lock. We are not a boating kind of family so our knowledge of this stuff is pretty limited. I didn’t even know this place existed and it’s less than a four hour drive away.

The general cruising around on the houseboat is pretty relaxing when you’re not either attempting to get gas, trying not to crash into fancy boats, drifting and getting stuck on rocks, being towed by a man in a motorboat off of his private property, mildly damaging a prop, waiting for a new prop to be delivered, crashing full-speed into rocks, waiting to be rescued from a swamp, completely trashing a different prop, getting fisihing lines stuck in trees, or having to approach locks to traverse the waterway… 11 times. Houseboats are huge hunks of boat and I don’t think many of the people who rent these things know what they’re doing, my dad and his friend included. I was relegated to being the rope-girl and at first that was stressful enough. Other than all that stuff, the trip was relaxing, especially once on dry land with a rye and ginger in hand.

I still don’t think I’m ready to give up international travels in pursuit of more local trips, not yet at least. But my interest in Canada has risen a bit, especially the stuff that appeals to the outdoorsy side of me. The part we visited is beautiful and it’s not even that far out into the wilderness. It’s amazing to think of the vastness of even Ontario alone and how much it has to offer, especially to camper and canoer types. One thing I can say about Canada is that the rumours are true, we are a friendly bunch. The staff at these locks must deal with unruly houseboat drivers all the time but they still manage to be super patient, inceredibly helpful, and just generally smiley which goes a long way towards soothing those tattered nerves after a day on the water.

Despite our minor run-ins with lock walls and rocks it was a great trip, mostly because I got to spend a lot of time with my parents. I’m starting to appreciate my time at home a lot more than I used to. Maybe it’s the whole getting older thing, who knows. My parents are funny and getting them together with their Scottish friends led to some pretty entertaining evenings, especially when the booze kicked in and the reminiscing began. I’ve been home for nearly two weeks and, as always, it feels like a lot longer. The difference this time is that I’m not itching to get away. Not yet, at least.

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