The Kawarthas or Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario, Canada, is located one to two hours by car (depending where in the region you are travelling) northeast of Toronto, and is considered part of Central Ontario. This is one of Ontario's prime cottage and vacation areas, encompassing the County of Peterborough and the City of Kawartha Lakes (formerly Victoria County) and is encircled by Durham region and Haliburton, Northumberland and Prince Edward Counties.
The Kawarthas is a region that, as the name suggests, includes many lakes -- in fact hundreds of lakes and rivers, and offers some of Ontario's best sport and recreational fishing. The region attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, mostly during the Spring to Autumn months, who come to cottages and resorts in the area, or to some of the many hotels, motels, inns and excellent campgrounds. There is year round activity, though, including fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, golf, festivals, museums, cultural and historic attractions, shopping and more.
Cities and communities
This region is covered by these articles:
- 1 Peterborough (Ontario) — the region's major business, education, cultural, and health care centre
- 2 Buckhorn, Lakefield and Stoney Lake — cottage country and lakeside resorts on the Highway 28 corridor in the east
- In the City of Kawartha Lakes:
- 3 Lindsay — the former Town of Lindsay is the main settlement of the sprawling rural "city"
- 4 Fenelon Falls — the former Village of Fenelon Falls sits by its eponymous falls in "cottage country"
- 5 Bobcaygeon — the former Village of Bobcaygeon is a pretty tourist village that caters to sport fishers and shoppers
- 1 Ken Reid Conservation Area, near Lindsay. Nature & wildlife areas, picnic shelters, washroom facilities, a large playground structure. Several loop trails lead through forests, meadows, and wetlands. One route includes the floating boardwalk that winds through the provincially significant MacLaren Creek Wetland bordering Sturgeon Lake.
The city of Peterborough is reachable by Greyhound intercity bus services from Toronto (8 times a day) and Ottawa (approx. twice a day). Otherwise, the car is your best, or only, bet to visiting the Kawarthas.
TOK Coach travels once a day from Toronto's Union Station to the Town of Haliburton stopping at Lindsay and Fenelon Falls.
Highway 28 forms a central spine through the Kawarthas and attractions such as Petroglyphs Provincial Park and Stoney Lake are easily accessible from the highway.
Outside of Peterborough and Lindsay, there is little in the way of public transportation - a car is close to being a necessity.
- Peterborough Transit operates 12 regular routes seven days a week and express routes September to April to Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College.
- Lindsay Transit operates three routes M-Sa 7AM-7PM in the former Town of Lindsay.
Renting a houseboat is a popular way of seeing the Trent-Severn Waterway and the Kawartha lakes. The season typically runs from mid-May to mid-October (when you may get to see the beginnings of the autumn colours). You do not need a boating licence, and you will be given a brief training session when you arrive to pick up your boat. The houseboats are 32 ft (9.8 m) to 52 ft (16 m) long, and sleep 4-12 people, although you will be packed in if you plan on maximum occupancy. They are available at different price/comfort levels. Be sure that the company you rent from provides nautical charts and/or GPS, or plan to bring your own. Book in advance for the busiest summer weeks.
- 2 Happy Days Houseboats, 5 Colony Road, Bobcaygeon, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Wide range of boats available. 24-hour telephone service line for emergencies. Provides charts and GPS. For a four-day mid-week rental, prices range from $1000 in the shoulder season to $2000 in July-Aug for the smallest boat, and from $2700 in the shoulder season to $4100 in July-Aug for a larger luxury vessel. 3-day weekend rentals are slightly more expensive. 7-day rentals are also available. Fuel, lock/mooring fees, insurance, and 13% sales tax are extra.
- 3 R&R Houseboat Rentals, 1601 Mill Line Rd., Bobcaygeon, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. Older houseboats, less service. Charts and GPS not provided. For a four-day mid-week or 3-day weekend rental, prices range from $600 in the shoulder season to $1200 in July-mid-Sept for the smallest boat, and from $1200 in the shoulder season to $1600 in July-Aug for a larger vessel. 7-day rentals are also available. Fuel, lock/mooring fees, and 13% sales tax are extra. Insurance covers damage over $2500, or for $25/day you can get insurance to cover damage over $1000.
- 4 Egan Houseboats, 23 Russell Dr, Omemee, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 32-foot boat that sleeps 6, or 40-foot boat that sleeps 8. For a four-day mid-week rental, prices range from $379 in the shoulder season to $1019 in July-Aug for the smallest boat, and from $479 in the shoulder season to $1279 in July-Aug for the larger vessel. 3-day weekend rentals are slightly more expensive. 7-day rentals are also available. Fuel, lock/mooring fees, insurance ($29/day), and 13% sales tax are extra.
- Visit the Liftlocks in Peterborough.
- See the petroglyphs at Petroglyphs Provincial Park near Stoney Lake
- Stoney Lake is beautiful in summertime.
- Kawartha Settlers Village, Bobcaygeon, is a a collection of over 20 historic homes and buildings from 1830 – 1935.
Fishing and boating are big draws for the Kawartha Lakes region. Sports stores and outfitters through the area can get you set up with the equipment you need.
From Peterborough, you can take a riverboat cruise: two-hour sightseeing or luncheon cruises on the Peterborough section of the Trent-Severn Waterway, including the Centennial Fountain and Peterborough Liftlock.
The Victoria Rail Trail is a 55-km trail that stretches from Lindsay 22 km through Cameron to Fenelon Falls, then 33 km to Kinmount. The trail is used year-round for hiking, horseback riding, cycling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The trail follows the former CN rail line.
The Ontario Open Fiddle and Step Dance Contest takes place in Bobcaygeon the last weekend in July.
In winter, snowmobiling is a popular activity, and the Devils Elbow Ski Area, in Bethany near Peterborough, offers 14 downhill ski runs, and 8.5 km of trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing
If you're thirsty for a pint or wanting to dance a bit, there are several pubs and bars in Peterborough.
- There are cottage rentals available year-round throughout the region, campgrounds and trailer parks in the summer, and hotels in the towns and villages.
Blue-green algae is a toxic form of algae that can be an occasional problem in this region. Do not swim or wade in water where this algae is present, do not drink the water, and do not let pets in the water. Blooms most commonly occur in late summer and early fall. They thrive in areas where the water is shallow, slow moving and warm, but they may be present in deeper, cooler water. Dense blue-green algae blooms may make the water look bluish-green, or like green pea soup or turquoise paint. Very dense blooms may form solid-looking clumps. Fresh blooms often smell like newly mown grass, while older blooms may smell like rotting garbage.
Poison ivy is common in wooded areas. All parts of poison ivy, including the roots, contain a poisonous substance which causes an irritating inflammation of the skin of most people, the inflamed areas frequently developing blisters and accompanied by intense itchiness.