Did you know that there are approximately 250,000 lakes and over 100,000 kms of rivers in Ontario? It’s no wonder this province is considered to have some of the very best boating in Canada! On top of that, Ontario is home to “cottage country”. This includes the Muskokas and surrounding lakeland areas, the Kawartha Lakes and the Haliburton Highlands. With so many awesome spots to hit the water in Ontario, choosing a starting point may seem impossible! But no worries, there’s really no bad place to go boating in Ontario.
Explore the breathtaking wilderness of Northern Ontario’s lakes, like the pristine Lake of the Woods. Cruise the urban shorelines of Toronto or Kingston on Lake Ontario. Exploring the Trent Severn waterway that features 386 kms of canal and Peterborough’s Lift Lock, the largest hydraulic boat lift in the world. Visiting one of Ontario’s Provincial Parks. Whichever area, you’ll find no shortage of boat launch locations. To find an Ontario boat launch near you, check out Discover Boating’s marina finder.
Just make sure you’ve got your Ontario Boating License (Pleasure Craft Operator Card) with you on your awesome boating adventure.
Going fishing in Ontario? It’s really awesome here – anglers from around the world come to take part in Ontario’s premier fishing. You can reel in record-breaking Largemouth Bass, Carp, Muskie and Pike! Don’t forget to find out about Ontario’s fishing regulations and pick up an Ontario fishing license.
Lake of the Woods
Lake of the Woods (LOTW) is a series of over 14,600 islands and a combined shoreline of 65,000 miles whose combined length bests Lake Superior. It’s Ontario’s second largest inland lake and borders the province of Manitoba and the state of Minnesota. Two thirds of the water lies within Ontario which totals 1,465 square miles of water. The lake encompasses over 1.5 million acres and edges villages, small cities and pristine wilderness.
The urban areas from within the region vary from resort communities, government centres and villages where wood is king. The waterway cuts through huge forests with granite hills making up the largely undisturbed shoreline. Lake of the Woods is an excellent lake for a voyage regardless of your skill level or inclination for adventure. The area offers excellent fishing making it a haven for anglers. You can enjoy varied weather through the spring, summer, and autumn with scenic views and an array of wildlife.
The spectacular sunsets over the water are second only to the Northern Lights that dominate the skies in the evenings. Kenora town we wound was another gem, with its heritage architecture, yachts lined up at its harbour, beautiful churches and other secular buildings. The town of Sioux Narrows offers a charming stop along the route with a focus on the fishing culture in the area. All in all, the Lake of the Woods escape from every day life is priceless!
The Rideau Canal
The Rideau Canal consists of a series of beautiful lakes and rivers connected by canals. It stretches from Kingston, at the foot of Lake Ontario, to Ottawa, Canada’s capital. Maintained by Canada’s Parks service it is arguably the most scenic and historic waterway in North America and is the oldest continuously operated canal in North America. The locks are operated today much as they were when first opened in 1832. Each lock is unique and the lock staff are always ready to offer the tourist any assistance they can. Most locks provide washrooms, overnight mooring and picnic facilities, including tables, benches and barbecue grills.
The Rideau Canal was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it is the best preserved example of a slackwater canal in North America demonstrating the use of European slackwater technology in North America on a large scale. It is the only canal dating from the great North American canal-building era of the early 19th century that remains operational along its original line with most of its original structures intact.
The designation is also for the fact that the Rideau Canal is an extensive, well preserved and significant example of a canal which was used for a military purpose linked to a significant stage in human history – that of the fight to control the north of the American continent.
Travelling the Rideau Canal is best done by boat to get the full ambiance of the region. You can pilot your own boat, trailer it at the Canal, or rent a boat on-site.
The towns and ports along the Lake Huron shoreline are collectively referred to as Ontario’s West Coast. It’s really one of the unique attractions of this, the second largest Great Lake. It has a surface area spanning 23,010 square miles and a 6,157 kilometre long shoreline. Here are a few notable places in the North Channel to check out.
The are many safe harbours to visit as you cruise around. The Bruce Peninsula, Tobermory, Lions Head, Win Field Basin, Pine Tree Harbour, Cove Island, Bradley Harbour, Stokes Bay, Oliphant and the Fishing Islands. They are all paradises just waiting to be explored.
Sauble Beach offers eco-rated marinas and another unique town famous for having the number one beach in Ontario and one of the top 10 beaches in Canada. Acclaimed for stunning sunsets that attract photographers and paintersand includes a wooden lighthouse built in 1881. The marina lies inside the protected harbour well distinguished by the two large breakwaters that extend out into Lake Huron.
Goderich is just a short days cruise south past Point Farms Provincial Park and the Goderich Municipal airport. Known as the “prettiest town in Canada” after winning many “Communities in Bloom” awards, Goderich offers two marinas (only one of which offers transient docking) and several marine services.
Continue south to Grand Bend. “The sun surf fun capital of Ontario” is a boater-friendly destination that boasts modern marinas. For nature lovers, Grand Bend is abundant with wildlife. It’s a common to spot rare, exotic birds, free roaming deer and even world famous butterflies. They all inhabit the sand dunes of Pinery Provincial Park.
Algoma Country is surrounded by Great Lakes, Lake Superior and Lake Huron. It offers world class boating and amazing water adventures. With a plethora of docking facilities and amenities, boaters can safety navigate the more than 30,000 islands. There are many coves, bays and inlets of Lake Superior. Here are a list of notable marinas you’ll find along your journey.
Explore the scenic Benjamin Islands, Bear Drop Harbour and Aird Island Beaches. Walk along the Shoreline Discovery trail that offers a beautiful view of the North Channel. The marina provides transportation to shop and dine and offers 127 docks, with a maximum length of 80 feet, a 5 foot draft, shore power, gas, diesel, and pumpout.
Thessalon Marina is located near the United States this marina is close to dining and shopping and offers a captain’s service house where boaters can use laundry, watch television, and use hot showers. Bicycles are also available to boaters. The marina hase 40 docks with a maximum length of 96 feet, a 10 foot draft, shore power, gas, diesel, and pumpout, as well as a launching ramp.
The popular town of Blind River offers a 18 hold golf course, tennis, elaborate woodland hiking trails, and coastal wetland with restaurants and shopping nearby. The marina offers 70 docks, maximum length of 100 feet, and draft of 10 feet. Other amenities include gas, diesel, pumpout, and transient docking. Boaters can also enjoy a boater’s lounge, marina cafe, and internet access.
National Geographic has repeated put the Muskokas in the top ten places to live in the world. A trip to the Muskokas and the Haliburton Highlands can transform an ordinary holiday into the experience of a lifetime. Admire glorious sunsets, cruise crystal clear waters, or dine and dance at any number of its active communities. This region is a boater’s dream for all ages and tastes.
Located two hours north of Toronto, the area attracts thousands of visitors each year looking for an exciting, relaxing vacation. Huntsville, one of the most popular communities with countless inland lakes, sparkling rivers and cascading waterfalls. Adding more excitement are the several activities, services and events that are hosted there each season.
Just to the east of Huntsville is Peninsula Lake, along with three other lakes, including the second largest, Lake of Bays. It offers more than 550 kilometers of sandy shoreline, and undisturbed beauty at its finest. It’s a perfect place to trailer your boat and enjoy special times with family. The Township Lake of Bays consists of three communities. Dwight, Dorset, Baysville and Hillside. Numerous lodges, cottages and resorts provide excellent accommodations.
Algonquin’s lakes and rivers are mainly restricted to canoes and kayaks, but enthusiasts with their boat in tow can take the Highway 35 exit (via Highway 117) to Baysville and enjoy the eastern side of Lake of Bays.
Georgian Bay, often called the sixth Great Lake due to its size, inspire every true yachtsman with its magnificent scenery, more than 30,000 islands, and passageways. It covers 15,000 square kilometers and offers endless nooks and crannies to discover. It offers opportunity for all water sports as well as picnics, birdwatching, camping, geocaching, photography and hiking. Notable areas of Georgian Bay for the avid boater are Giant’s Tomb close to Penetanguishene, Midland.
Other launch ramps in the region, the Western Islands for sensational seclusion such as American Camp Island in Wah Wah Taysee near O-Donnell Point. There is also Beausoleil Island near Honey Harbour, the largest in Georgian Bay Islands National Park, Port Rawson, Twelve Mile Bay or Echo Bay near Sans Souci.
The Kawartha Lakes
Peterborough & the Kawarthas, which lies at the heart of the Trent-Severn Waterway, provides some of the best inland boating in the world with a chain of locks and canals that connects our lakes and rivers to the Great Lakes and beyond. The canals can be travelled one portion at a time moving from one point to another, or can be done end to end over the course of a week or two. There are plenty of B&Bs and hotels along the way for small boaters and overnight docking can be arranged at the 45 locks for cruisers.
Boating enthusiasts of every kind love the Kawartha waters: anglers looking for the catch of the day; sightseers out for an afternoon on a pontoon boat; wake-boarders showing their stuff behind a ski boat; power-boaters and cruisers on a week-long jaunt. Along the many towns and communities are lakes and rivers running off the Trent-Severn system where art galleries, museums, and other historical sites can be found. Each year circa 130,000 boaters travel the system.
Less than an hour from Toronto, Lake Simcoe offers an excellent opportunity for boating enthusiasts including popular destinations like Barrie and Orillia. Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching are the largest lakes on the Trent Severn waterway and have a deep history of angling and hunter. Lagoon City offers a haven for boaters where beautiful homes line the canals. Beaverton features the opportunity to peruse its antique and collectables stores, museums, farmer’s market and the Old Stone Jail.
Along the southern shoreline you can find Pefferlaw, Sutton and Jackson’s Point, home to the Red Barn Theatre where live plays and performances can be seen. Cook’s Bay holds a series of communities including Keswick. West of Cook’s Bay lies Gilford, Lefroy and Bell Ewart. Making your way north you will find Big Bay Point and Kempenfelt Bay which leads to the city of Barrie, the largest communities on the lake. Moving further north you’ll find the Atherly Narrows leading to Lake Couchiching and Orillia, another boater haven.
From the Lake of Two Mountains and Lake Saint-Louis to Montreal to the famous Rideau Canal and Ottawa, from Ottawa to Pembroke to Mattawa and the Temiskaming Shores, boating the Lower and Upper Ottawa River provides a scenic and very navigable experience. This epic river cruising opportunity can be done over a week, covering over 1000 kilometres.