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Trent-Severn waterway

The Trent-Severn Waterway is a Canadian canal system formerly used for commercial purposes but now exclusively for pleasure boats, connecting Lake Ontario at Trenton to the Georgian Bay portion of Lake Huron at Port Severn. Its major natural waterways include the Trent River, Otonabee River, the Kawartha lakes, Lake Simcoe, Lake Couchiching and the Severn River.
It traverses Southern Ontario's "cottage country" with recreational properties being the primary industry along the waterway. It is open for navigation from May until October.
The total length of the waterway is 386 km, beginning at Trenton, Ontario, with roughly 32 km of man-made channels. There are 44 locks, including 36 conventional locks, two sets of flight locks, hydraulic lift locks at Peterborough and Kirkfield, and a marine railway at Big Chute which transports boats between the upper and lower sections of the Severn. The system also includes 39 swing bridges and 160 dams and control structures that manage the water levels for flood control and navigation on lakes and rivers that drain approximately 18,600 square kilometres of central Ontario's cottage country region, across four counties and three single-tier cities, an area that is home to more than a million Canadians.
It reaches its highest point at Balsam Lake. It is often claimed that this is the highest point on Earth to which a vessel can be navigated from sea level; however, the Rhine–Main–Danube_Canal reaches 406 m at its highest point, compared to the 256.3 m of the Balsam Lake and even within North America there are portions of the Mississippi River that are higher and can be reached.
In the mid-1800s the river systems of Central Ontario were used by lumber barons to easily transport newly felled trees to sawmills closer to market. Many of the logging companies opposed the building of locks for it interfered with their business interests. The logging companies did, however, help to create thriving communities like Bobcaygeon and Fenelon Falls, all of which helped to delay the building of the lock system.
Construction began in the Kawartha Lakes region in 1833 with the Lock at Bobcaygeon marking its beginning. It took over 87 years to complete the waterway with two "temporary" marine railways installed at Big Chute and Swift Rapids, and only by 1920 could a boat travel the whole route. Some argue that the canal has not been finished, as although Swift Rapids finally had its intended lock installed in 1965, the marine railway at Big Chute is still in operation. A branch of the canal constructed to Newmarket, Ontario was also abandoned.
The slow progress was noticed by the Canadian government. In 1878 Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald tried to speed up progress by making it government policy to ensure that the system would be completed. Even with this it would take several decades more. In an attempt to circumvent Federal apathy and realize some of the economic benefits of a complete canal system, some of the locks were even built by the Government of Ontario, before the Federal government again stepped in and resumed construction.
The lock system aided the development of central Ontario, allowing a quick and efficient flow of goods to and from the major trading centres along Lake Ontario. The rugged, rough terrain of this area of the province made travel by land extremely difficult and time-consuming.
When the canal was finally completed, it failed to have a major impact on the economy of the regions it was built to serve. In general, it was designed for boats that were too small to be commercially viable. And in the years that it was under construction, railroads had further developed their networks and improved service, which influenced settlement patterns. It finally became completely obsolete for commercial purposes when the present day Welland Canal was completed in 1932. The Welland Canal could handle ships large enough to sail across the ocean, though cargo was generally transferred to or from larger ocean-going vessels at Montreal.
The Trent-Severn system is still in service and is maintained and operated by Parks Canada, a federal government agency. It is now a tourism feature catering to recreational boaters.

(Source Wikipedia)