The "land of the shining waters"
Cottage country only 90 minutes from Toronto

kawarthas The Kawarthas Region of Ontario is another of the “cottage country” areas for those inhabitants that live further south. Located just 130 kilometres (78 miles) northeast of Toronto it takes just 90 minutes to get to the heart of the region (traffic dependant). The area is so popular that in fact many people now live in the area full time and do the daily commute to Toronto to work. Note that during rush hour the drive time can easily be doubled.

The Kawarthas are a series of lakes and the name comes from an aboriginal term meaning “the land of the shining waters”. Today many are interconnected and form the heart of the Trent-Severn waterway system that connects Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay and thus the upper great lakes. This is part of the rugged Canadian Shield and this heavily forested region has more than 250 lakes and numerous rivers, streams and canals. Some of the bigger lakes include:
  • Sturgeon Lake
  • Buckhorn Lake
  • Pigeon Lake
  • Balsam Lake
  • Rice Lake
  • Lake Scugog
  • Stoney Lake
  • Lower Buckhorn Lake
If you navigate to my destination-lakes.html pages you will find all of them included for these are some of the most highly visited fishing, boating and swimming destinations in the province.

All told there are over 250 lakes of varying sizes in the Kawarthas region and most are crystal clear and dotted with numerous cottages.


The Kawarthas region is still not too densely populated but as previously mentioned the area’s inhabitants are increasing at a rapid pace as it is no longer being considered just a summer destination location but is in fact becoming a permanent home to many. For others though, it is still one of the premier vacation destinations in the province and its close proximity to the City of Toronto make it an ideal weekend getaway.

The main population centre is the small City of Peterborough commonly referred to as “the gateway to the Kawarthas”. With approximately 120,000 inhabitants it is one of the fastest developing areas of the country. Sitting in an idyllic setting on the Otonabee River the Trent-Severn Waterway passes right through the city and in fact boats must past through the Peterborough Lift Lock, the largest and highest lift lock in the world as it raises craft over 19.5 metres (65 feet).

The only other large urban centre in the region is the City of Kawartha Lakes with a population of approximately 73,000 people. Locals however do not consider this a “real” city as it was created by an amalgamation of many smaller communities centered on the Town of Lindsay. If the city is disregarded the following are the largest communities in the region:
  • Village of Bobcaygeon, population 3,500
  • Village of Fenelon Falls, population 2,000
  • Town of Lindsay, population 19,000
  • Town of Port Perry, population 9,500


Map of the Kawarthas region

kawarthas map


Getting to the Kawartha Ontario region:

By Car:

The region is very accessible but the route you choose to get there depends upon your desired destination. Cutting through the centre of the region is Highway #115/35 which leads directly to Peterborough.

The main east-west transit route is Highway #7.

From Toronto:

Navigate to Highway 401 East to Highway #115/35 just past the Municipality of Clarington straight into Peterborough.

The slower route would follow Highway 401 east to the Town of Whitby. Exit at Brock Street (Highway #12) and continue north until it merges with Highway #7. Continue on Highway # 7 to pass through Port Perry, Kawartha Lakes (Lindsay) and eventually Peterborough.

From Ottawa/Montreal:

The most direct route is to simply take Highway #7 West all the way from Ottawa to Peterborough. This is a slow but very scenic route and one I would suggest if you are coming directly from Ottawa and have some time to take a leisurely drive.

If however you are coming from Montreal or anywhere east south of Ottawa you are better off traveling on Highway 401 West to County Road #28 near the Town of Port Hope. Continue north on County Road # 28 until Highway #7. Head east on Highway #7 into Peterborough.

From Northern Ontario:

Navigate to Huntsville. From there you can travel in 2 directions, either take Highway # 11 South to Orillia then take Highway #13 East into the Kawartha region or take Highway #35 South to Kawartha Lakes (Lindsay), from there take Highway #7 East to Peterborough if desired.

By Air:

Air travel into the region is not an option.

By Public Transport:

By Rail:

Rail travel into the region is not an option. No rail services are provided.

By Bus:

The region is well serviced by bus as a number of bus service providers provide regularly scheduled service into some of the Kawartha region communities. The following serve some or all of the region:
Recently, due to the ever-increasing number of commuters that are living in the region the local commuter bus service: GO Transit has started to provide limited service into Peterborough and Port Perry. Visit www.gotransit.com for more information.


kawartha highlands The Kawarthas region of Ontario Canada is one of the most beautiful in the province. Its close proximity to the City Of Toronto means that visitors to the city can easily take a side trip for a day or two into the region to fully explore it. The myriad of lakes, highland and historic towns makes for perfect way to relax and enjoy the great Canadian countryside.

As this is the centre of the world-renowned Trent-Severn Waterway you can imagine that boating is a particularly popular pastime in the region. Renting a houseboat or other pleasure craft on one of the bodies of water is an easy proposition. Please note however that these are heavily trafficked waters by craft of all sizes so care must always be taken when on the water.

Fishing and swimming are also very popular and the Kawartha Lakes offers some of the best fresh water fishing in the world. Visit my fishing-ontario.html pages for more information as to the best lakes to travel to and what you can expect to catch.

The region also includes two massive Provincial parks:
  • Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park
  • Queen Elizabeth II Highlands Provincial Park

Additionally there are other numerous provincial parks including Petroglyphs Provincial Park where you can explore the largest collection of Aboriginal rock carvings in North America. The park contains over 900 rock carvings that date back centuries.

For those that enjoy total outdoor experiences the region offers some of the best camping in the province and has an extensive 800 kilometre (480 mile) network of trails to enjoy hiking, cycling or cross-country skiing in the winter.


Kawarthas Attractions

Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park

A very large wilderness park located just 2 hours northeast of Toronto. Catering to those who wish to partake in an authentic Canadian wilderness experience it is a "must" destination for avid outdoor enthusiasts. Get all the information you need about the park on my Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park page.

Trent-Severn Waterway

One of the premier boating destinations in the province if not the world it's famous for its leisurely houseboat vacations. With plenty to do in addition to boating get all the information you need on my Trent-Severn Waterway page.

Petroglyphs Provincial Park

Containing the largest collection of aboriginal petroglyphs in all of North America Petroglyphs Provincial Park is the place where aborginals believe the "spirits talk to them". Located just south of nearby Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park this is one of the most spritual locations in the province for Ontario's First Nations peoples. Get all the information you need about the park on my Petroglyphs Provincial Park page.


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