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Ontario Travel - Peterborough: The Peterborough Farmers Market, Lunch on Hunter Street and a Cruise,
published on Jun 13, 2011
	After my brief stay in Peterborough over the July long weekend I decided to head back there to explore this travel region in greater detail. I have always liked the Kawartha Region, with its beautiful lakes and rolling hills, and equally importantly, I always appreciate its easy reachability and proximity to Toronto. It takes just about an hour and half to leave the Big Smoke behind and reach the serene countryside and jewel-blue lakes of the Kawartha Region.

So on August 4, 2010 I set off on a 3-day adventure to explore more of this popular vacation region. I arrived mid-morning at my home for the next two days: the Golden Pathways Bed and Breakfast where dynamic owner Cora Whittington welcomed me like an old friend. We had already met earlier in July of this year when I had spent two nights at her relaxing country retreat.

Rate and Review : Ontario Travel - Peterborough: The Peterborough Farmers Market, Lunch on Hunter Street and a Cruise 

Cora Whittington, my gracious hostess at the Golden Pathways B&B The Golden Pathways B&B has three guest bedrooms, all located on the lower level of the house with two bathrooms, a large living room and kitchen area that is available for guests to use. Outside is a beautiful porch that overlooks the Whittington family farm and a barbecue is available for the guests as well. At only 15 minutes from Peterborough, this bed and breakfast is embedded in the quiet countryside, yet has quick access to a major city with all its restaurants and other entertainment options. It’s a great place to get away from it all and relax. Or you can get active and go hiking or bicycling or enjoy watersports in the nearby Squirrel Creek Conservation Area and on the Otonabee River. My luxurious bedroom at the Golden Pathways B&B But there was no time to linger: I wanted to head out to the Peterborough Farmers Market which is held every Wednesday and Saturday morning. Since 1825 this farmer’s market has been providing fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products, honey, maple syrup and a variety of preserves to local residents. I admired freshly cut flowers from local farms and various handicrafts while the locals were chatting with the merchants. Two gentlemen from the D'Silva family told me about the East Indian preserves and finger foods that they produce at their family business called "Sybil's" in the west end of Peterborough. A wide range of curry pastes are very popular with the local shoppers, particularly the “kick-ass curry paste” whose recipe is a family secret. I even got a tiny spoonful of butter chicken, one of my favourite chicken dishes. The D'Silva family sells East Indian preserves at the Peterborough Farmer's Market This little sample really made my stomach growl now, so the food stands started to catch my attention. Local merchant Inna Trotchine from A Taste of Russia reeled me in with her delicious looking goodies. The potato-mushroom strudel, the cheese-filled platchintas, the feta cheese and spinach triangles and the apple dumplings were definitely enticing me, but I had planned to visit a local restaurant for lunch so I had to reign in my appetite. But Inna clearly recognized my cravings and gave me a free taste of some of her delicious pierogies, which hit the spot perfectly to quench the worst of my hunger. Inna and some of her delicacies at "A Taste of Russia" Fortunately I had managed to save enough room for lunch, so I headed up to Hunter Street which offers an array of eclectic restaurants and street cafes. I settled in at Karma’s Café whose chic décor actually was created as part of the television show “Restaurant Makeover”. I even had a chance to peek into the kitchen and watch chef Vladimir at work who has been with Karma’s for the past six years. He was working on preparing some of the Tibetan, Malaysian and Southeast Asian dishes that are served here. Always on the lookout for tasty vegetarian dishes, I thoroughly enjoyed my Nasi-Hapjes rice patties. My Asian-inspired lunch at Karma's Café After this flavoursome Asian-inspired lunch, I made my way to the Peterborough Marina where I boarded the Liftlock Cruise sightseeing boat. For the next two hours I hung out with Captain Graham Kent, who entertains the crowd with his informative and humorous commentary. He explained that when he started this business, he hired local university students to do historical research about Peterborough which produced hundreds of pages of interesting information about this city. In the end he distilled the information down to 32 pages of the most interesting tidbits about Peterborough and the Trent-Severn Waterway. Captain Graham Kent is a treasure trove of information As we started our cruise I had a chance to interview Graham about the history of his company which he bought in 1994 from a former business partner. Since then Liftlock Cruises has truly evolved into a veritable family enterprise with his wife, his son and daughter-in-law and his daughter and son-in-law being involved. They operate two vessels: the Island Princess, a double-deck replica side wheeler, and the Skylark VIII, a single-deck tour boat that is often used for corporate cruises. The season lasts from late May to mid-October and coincides with the opening periods of the Trent-Severn Waterway. The "Island Princess" As we cruised on Little Lake we passed by the marina and Del Crary Park, Peterborough’s popular outdoor gathering spot and home to many free concerts throughout the summer. Grant pointed out the Little Lake Cemetery which has been in use since 1850. We also saw two sandy beaches at Rogers Cove Park and Beavermead Park. Then it was on to Lock No. 20 on the Trent-Severn Waterway. Captain Graham Kent expertly steers the boat towards the lock The Trent-Severn Waterway is a 386 km (240 mile) long canal system that connects Lake Ontario with Lake Huron via a series of lakes, rivers and canals. It starts in Trenton, Ontario, and ends in Port Severn on Georgian Bay, the southern portion of Lake Huron, and was built in the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century to facilitate transport of timber for logging companies. Balsam Lake, not far from Peterborough, is the watershed of the area, where the Severn River flows westwards, and the Trent River flows eastwards towards Lake Ontario. With an altitude of 840 feet, this is the highest point on earth to which a boat can travel from sea level. Approaching Lock 20 on the Trent-Severn Waterway Construction of this engineering marvel began in 1833 in Bobcaygeon and was not finished until 1920. Grant explained that the construction of the waterway would proceed in fits and starts, since most of the construction happened in the years leading up to elections. Politicians knew how to use the continued construction of the various portions of the canal as an effective vote buying tool. Lock 20 is still operated manually today by cranking this mechanism Lock 20 of the waterway, the Ashburnham Lock, is a manually operated lock and connects Little Lake with the Trent Canal which helps to overcome the steep elevation drop and the rapids in the northern part of Peterborough. It took about 15 minutes for our boat to be lifted up and over the lock into the canal. Passing under a historic and still operational railroad bridge we approached one of the most significant sights along the Trent-Severn Waterway: the Peterborough Lift Lock. Lock 21 - the famous Peterborough Lift Lock Built between 1896 and 1904, these dual boat lifts are the highest hydraulic boat lifts in the world. Captain Graham also told us about the engineer behind these lift locks: Richard Birdsall Rogers, who studied canal systems in England, Belgium and France to come up with the design of this structure. The Peterborough Lift Lock boasts many engineering firsts: it was the first lock built of concrete, and at the time of its inauguration, this was the largest solid unreinforced concrete construction on the planet. In 1987, the Peterborough Lift Lock was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. We are inside Lock 21, waiting to get lifted almost 20 metres! Essentially, the lift lock is composed of two huge concrete “bathtubs” that move up and down using the counterweight principle. While one basin ascends the other one descends, using gravity alone. The water level of the top basin is 30 cm higher than the lower one, causing an extra weight of 144 tons. And this extra weight makes the upper basin descend, while at the same time lifting the lower basin and any boats that might be in it. Now we are on top of Lock 21 - high up in the air! The height difference between the lower and the upper levels of the canal is 19.8 metres or 65 feet. This was a significant achievement at a time when other locks only had a rise of about 2 metres. And it only takes about 4 minutes to ascend or descend between the higher and lower levels. Now about 20 feet higher on the Trent Canal we went for another half a kilometer or so until we turned around. Just before our turnaround point we cruised underneath a bridge that is a popular diving spot for local kids. Several teenage boys were holding on to the bridge’s railing and let us pass, only to jump down into the water the second we had sailed by. Then Captain Graham swung our vessel around and we started our slow ride back. Local teenagers are jumping off the bridge On the way back our captain pointed out a building with a circular roof right next to the Peterborough Lift Lock, the Lift Lock Visitor Centre. Up on the hill west of the lift lock is another Peterborough landmark: the former Westclox factory, built in 1922 as a subsidiary of an Illinois-based company that manufactured thousands of Canadian Big Ben clock models during the first half of the 20th century. Production came to a halt in 1986 when manufacturing moved to cheaper off-shore locations. Then the former factory, now renamed Times Square, underwent a complete transformation, was turned into 152 residential condo units and some commercial and office spaces and became an example of a highly successful conversion of a historic industrial structure. The historic Westclox Factory After this comprehensive introduction to some of Peterborough’s most well-known landmarks, it was now time for my next adventure: the Canadian Canoe Museum.

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