Holding Back

It seems fitting that in the same week I declare that we’ve abandoned our trek on the TransCanada Trail, I should feature doors from our travels on this trail.

During the past couple of months, we had been loosely following the Trent-Severn Waterway eastwards and passing through the little towns that grew up around the various locks in the system.

One of those towns was Campbellford which I featured in the April Changing Seasons post here.

Apparently I must really think this topic is fascinating, because this is the 4th time I’m talking about canals and locks on this blog. Β There is just something about those massive metal doors that hold back – or contain – the water necessary to move a boat safely from one level to the next.


Pictures just don’t do justice to the size of these massive chambers and their doors!


In this particular section, there are 2 chambers required to move a boat from the top of the waterway to the bottom … or vice versa.


When we were passing through this area in early April, it was interesting to note that the water at the top of the lock was still frozen, while the water at the bottom was not.

A swing bridge to allow boat traffic through to the lock.

A small waterfall was seeping through the giant doors and spilling into the chamber below.

Locks5Maybe if you grew up in an area with a dam and lock system, this would be pretty mediocre stuff, but to me … it’s magic.

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton atΒ Norm 2.0.



  1. I remember learning about the locks on the St Lawrence River in school as a child. However, I hadn’t seen one in action until I was touring through Ontario about ten years ago. My son and I watched a boat go through a lock on a canal somewhere between Gananoque and Ottawa, and found it fascinating.



  2. I think locks are quite fascinating. I’m not sure I’ve seen any in action, but there were some in Florida and we passed a set in Scotland while we were on a tour.


    • I’ve only watched one in operation and it was a huge freighter going through a lock on the St Lawrence Seaway. It was excruciatingly slow … like watching paint dry πŸ˜‰
      That doesn’t stop me from wanting to experience it from a boat though!


  3. I had no idea about the locks you’v mentioned in your past few blogs – so interesting.
    There is a wonderful series on Youtube called “Great Canal Journeys: with Timothy West & Prunellas Scales and they go all over the place! And once again, I’ve been o many of these places and didn’t even realize some of these canals existed! Because they were built originally for commerce rather than leisure they tended to be a bit hidden away.


  4. These are seriously impressive lock gates!! I have been canal-boating in England and travelling through the locks is cool β€” for a while. I learned though that after the first six or so, one lock is much like another and my tolerance for muddy, slightly smelly canals is quite low.


    • I have a friend with a boat who has travelled sections of the Trent-Severn Waterway. Her opinion is similar to yours. The novelty wore off a long time ago and now she considers it tediously slow.

      Liked by 1 person

      • πŸ˜‚ we spent an afternoon canal boating and thought it was fun, then agreed to help friends move their new boat from the Midlands to London over several days. Boredom, hunger (they were pretty hopeless in the food department) and the lack of a closing toilet door (the boat was unfinished) kind of put a damper on the trip, and when we got to a set of seven locks with a queue to get through, I mutineed and set off across the fields for the nearest railway station.


    • I did see a freighter a few years ago going through one of the locks in the Welland Canal, which bypasses Niagara Falls.
      I did a post about it, but it was one of the victims of the purge I did of posts prior to 2016. My bad πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m with you Joanne, I find canals and locks totally fascinating. It’s simple technology that has been around for at least a few thousand years (I think) but it’s pure genius to me.
    I’d love to paddle through a canal system in a canoe or kayak but I think it might be safer for me at this point to stick to short simple trips on calm water πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sadly, the trail wasn’t quite what we were hoping for, but my intention to see the country close up and personal is still alive and well. I’ll just be approaching it differently πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve seen a lock in action only once – it was a huge freighter going through a lock on the St Lawrence Seaway. It was a REALLY slow process … and friends have warned me that recreational boats going through the Trent-Severn is also REALLY slow, but that won’t stop me from wanting to try it myself!


  6. Magical, for sure, Joanne and also the source of an embarrassing childhood memory. Actually I was a young teen, which made it even more embarrassing.

    My family had rented a houseboat for a week’s vacation. We were on the Trent-Severn waterway and on the very first day, very first lock, I was supposed to tie up the back of the boat to the lock while we waited for the doors to open and it to be our turn to go through.

    I’ve never been very good at knots so I made sure I tied this one really tightly. No one had told me that you’re supposed to make a slip knot that will open effortlessly because you have NO time when the lockmaster motions you forward. I still remember trying to get that darn knot undone while the lockmaster, my dad and every pleasure boat owner in the lock glared, laughed, or sighed.

    So have fun going through a lock this summer in a kayak. It’s the stuff of nightmare for me!


    • Yesterday’s disaster is today’s really great story! Love this, Karen, largely because I can relate to it. I STILL have no idea how to tie a decent knot. That would have been me too.

      I’m curious – how did a young teenager like being on a houseboat for a week’s vacation?

      btw – you are supposed to tie your boat to the lock??? I think I’m going to have to do a bit of research on boat etiquette before I venture out in a kayak to experience a lock.
      …. and finally learn how to tie a slip knot!


  7. Years and years and years ago, my husband and I canoed from Smiths Falls, ON to Kingston on the Rideau Canal system, pitching our tent on lockmasters’ grounds (for a fee) and then paddling thru lakes and locks to get to Kingston. One of the most unnerving things was sitting between those big doors with enormous pleasure boats waiting to be locked through. I was always afraid we’d be swamped in their wake or crushed by the doors as we made our way.


    • What an awesome trip!

      If 20 years ago you had suggested that I would find a multi-day canoe trip anywhere as fascinating, I would have laughed hysterically.
      It’s funny that as I get older, my sense of adventure is getting stronger, not weaker πŸ™‚

      I admit that my throat constricts at the thought of being in one of those chambers surrounded by the massive walls and big boats around me … but get a thrill at the thought at the same time.

      … there might be something wrong with me πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m another lock fan. And narrowboats. And canals. There is just something romantic about them. You would love the Caen Hill Locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal, where there are 29 locks have a rise of 237 feet in 2 miles.


  9. Light on water I think should really be the theme of a couple of your shots – particularly when the locks are slightly ajar and you see a line of light across the water. Nicely done.


    • Oh my – your comment made me go back and look again at my photos. Wow – I hadn’t noticed that beam of light! It really is quite striking now that you’ve mentioned it.
      The things others notice in your photos!! Cool πŸ™‚


  10. I understand your fascination with canals and locks and huge bodies of water being held in place by giant doors. It’s amazing. The engineering. The foresight. Plus they make for some great photos, so what’s not to love.


  11. I think it’s pretty cool too, Joanne, partly because of the ingenuity but also the huge size. I’ve never seen one in real life. That’s weird that one side was frozen and the other not. Hmm. A mystery. πŸ™‚


  12. In my childhood I lived in a province of Holland that had many dykes and waterlocks. Love these blue ones, and it reminds me the sound of how they open and and the water rushing through there! Thanks for the memory.


  13. That’s awesome, Joanne. I remember as a child a couple of times my grandfather took us on his little fishing boat, through the locks of a dam. The second time a guy in a speed boat was showing off and nearly capsized several boats, including ours. Not fun, that time, but it was still cool to see it towering above us. Hugs.


    • ooo – that’s what I’m hoping to experience this summer … well, except for the speedboat part πŸ˜‰

      I’m wondering if you went through it again now, would it still feel so very big to you?


  14. I’m with you (and the above commenters) on being fascinated by canals and locks. So glad to see the photos from the TransCanada Trail featured in this post. It is a very fitting farewell! Great post and photos!


    • Maybe it’s just part of that general fascination with everything related to water. I’m attracted to water like a divining rod … and since you live on the West Coast, I’m guessing you would say the same!!


  15. Great photos, Joanne. I did grow up in a region where working locks were part of the local story (rivers in Pittsburgh). I traveled through a set of locks on a school field trip, and I was hooked by the massive mechanisms and the apparent ease with which they functioned. I don’t think I will ever get tired of seeing them. Thanks for some nice close-up photos!


      • Ahhh trench coats, now that brings back memories, LOL 🀣 Remember I’m from the generation when streaking was popular 😳


        • I had an ‘incident’ with a trench-coat clad dude one evening shortly after I moved to the city from a small town. He flashed me on a pedestrian bridge when I got off the subway. I was so startled, I whacked him as hard as I could on the side of the head with my purse … and then ran!

          ahhh – good times πŸ˜‰

          Liked by 1 person

  16. Great! I find locks fascinating too. When we sailed our yacht over the Channel, we took the masts down then travelled to the south of France via the canals and waterways. We went in the biggest lock in France and were the only boat in it. The huge drop was amazing, it emptied so quickly! We now keep the yacht in Greece, and the only lock round here is probably the entry to the Corinth canal…..


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