Welcome to Bobcaygeon, a Trent-Severn Trail Town located along the 386 km Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site of Canada connecting Lake Ontario and Lake Huron. Boat, paddle, cycle, hike or drive along this renowned inland passageway through historic lock stations and into quaint communities with unique offerings for every visitor.
You may have heard of Bobcaygeon – for a small village we’ve garnered a fair amount of recognition. We’ve been known by cottagers for generations as the go-to town for Pigeon and Sturgeon Lakes. Shoppers know us for Bigley Shoes, the home of Kawartha Dairy Ice Cream, and for our many interesting shops, restaurants, and diverse artisan community. If you’re a Canadian music fan, you’re sure to know the Tragically Hip Juno Award-winning song “Bobcaygeon”. In fact, international media flooded into Bobcaygeon in 2016 as thousands of fans celebrated while the Hip concert played on giant screens on our main street.
What makes this little town of Bobcaygeon so special?
You start with a stroll down the main street of this pretty little cottage-country town. As you enjoy this summer day, around you are friendly shops and you’re catching occasional whiffs of delicious restaurant offerings. You stop here and there to get a closer look at store windows and to investigate a menu or two. Ahead you can see the locks where boats from far and wide are making their way through the Trent-Severn Waterway. Lots of houseboats and happy-go-lucky travelers today – you are in the houseboat capital of Ontario, after all.
Maybe you’ll walk over and sit on a shady bench to watch the boats for a while before a patio lunch. Now you’ve got it. Your city cares are far away and Bobcaygeon starts to hum its happy music in your mind.
And Bobcaygeon isn’t just any old cottage-country town. Its special ambiance is backed up by a unique history, century-old buildings side-by-side with modern updates, and an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants. A major claim to fame was staked when the village became the site of the first lock on the world-renowned National Historic Site, the Trent-Severn Waterway. That lock was built right here, at the narrows between Sturgeon and Pigeon lakes in 1833. Sawmill and gristmills dotted the waterways at the time. The Boyd family lumber business was booming and they soon established the Trent Valley Navigation Company.
For a peek at days gone by, just visit the nearby Boyd Museum. Uncover the village’s lumbering empire roots here, view artifacts and settlers’ clothing, and answer the age-old question, “What do you get when you cross cattle and prairie buffalo?” Well, cattalo of course!
It isn’t hard to see why, around the turn of the century, the truly beautiful lakes, trees, and landscape made Bobcaygeon a beloved destination for tourists and cottagers escaping the sweltering cities to the south. While much has changed since then, the village remains the Hub of the Kawarthas, in name, function, and spirit. The waterways and lush landscapes provide trails and activities for all to enjoy. And today, Lock 32 is one of the busiest on the Trent-Severn Waterway. In 2017, it ‘locked through’ the largest number of boats for the year and set an all-time record -- 10,606 boats!
Exploring a little further afield, your first stop is the bike share near the locks. Now off to shop at the Farmers’ Market and take photos of the painted paddle art and spectacular hanging flower baskets that line the streets. Pedal past the colourful gardens at the locks and Market Square and then on to Kawartha Settlers’ Village. In this gem of living history, you experience what life was like for pioneers, with more than 20 historical buildings to stir your imagination. Nowadays, Settlers’ Village is also the lively home to the Craft Beer Festival, Ghost Tours, Murder Mystery Theatre, Settlers’ Days, weekly Movies in the Barn, Haunted Halloween, the November Festival of Trees, and more!
Now you may be thinking, there is more here than immediately meets the eye. What other nearby pleasures might you find?
Yoga by the Locks and a spa day may fit right in with your relaxing holiday plans and there are several classes and spas to choose from. If a day on the links is your choice, you’ll want to try your hand at one of several local golf courses.
Patio life more your style? Bobcaygeon boasts some prime spots to unwind, and one is the largest outdoor patio in the Kawarthas. And don’t forget, you’ll want to be heading over to a night of great music every Thursday evening at the locks. It’s free to all, just bring your own chair and moor it on the lawn beside the houseboats. Or up-anchor and arrive in style in your own boat.
Bobcaygeon is blessed with a generous variety of bird species. Swans, eagles, loons, ospreys -- birds big and small. You’ll find local birding hot spots online where you can check them out and add some sightings of your own.
The lakes, of course, are an attraction beyond compare. Perhaps a short walk along the boardwalk to the village Beach Park and a swim for starters? Then, if you don’t have a boat, no problem. Fishing boats, canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards can be rented nearby, along with jet skis and water toys. There’s nothing like the fun atmosphere of an afternoon at the local sandbars. And if you prefer a slower pace, you’ll find many tranquil spots for paddling and fishing, too.
Big Boyd/Chiminis Island, located on Pigeon Lake, sits right in Bobcaygeon’s backyard. This 1,200-acre Kawartha Land Trust property, along with its hiking trails, is open to the public, accessible by boat, and is a true nature lover’s paradise.
A relaxing day on the water can easily be followed with an evening of dining and professional theatre.
The Gamiing Nature Centre on the outskirts of town will enchant you with musical evenings under the stars, as well as daytime trails and educational programs for all ages. Learn about our First Nations heritage while experiencing a late summer Manomin (wild rice) harvesting on this 100-acre natural example of zero-impact lakeshore living.
Or make plans to join the many others who travel from near and far every year for summer theatre at its best. Globus Theatre at the Lakeview Arts Barn is just a few minutes out of town.
For now, you settle onto that shady bench by the locks again and watch the world go by one boat at a time. Do you hear the church bells pealing in the distance? What could be finer!
You access the free Wi-Fi, go online, and discover that just about anything you want is not far away from where you sit. Resorts large and small, restaurants and shops, everything anyone might want or dream of . . .
The 1921 swing bridge is in action and you watch the Lockmaster open it to allow a larger boat to pass, truly a sight to see. You wonder if they’re traveling through, navigating the Great Loop, and wander over for a chat – boaters love to share their travel stories.
You know that when you leave here you will be back. Next time a winter adventure awaits – snowmobiling, ice fishing, curling, skating, maybe building a snow sculpture at Family Day FrostFest.
You may start thinking that one day you’ll find a way to live here. Once the leaves have fallen and the Daddy of ‘Em All Bobcaygeon Fall Fair is over, the village settles into an easy pace enjoyed by more and more people every year. There’s a place for you here, whatever your life stage. Looking for a home near a school, luxury adult community, historic old house, handy apartment, or retirement home? They’re all here and more. But life is only as quiet as you want it to be. The social scenery here is also attractive, with a large and diverse selection of activities, facilities, sports, entertainment and clubs to join.
Visitor or new resident, we welcome you to join us here in our little corner of paradise.