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Peterborough Lift Lock Cruise -Things to do in Peterborough Ontario

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Peterborough is a city located in the Canadian province of Ontario. This river city is situated in between Toronto and Ottawa, the Canadian capital city. Peterborough is located on the Otonabee River. It is popularly known due to the historic hydraulic lifts found in the city. And this is what pulls tourists to the central Ontario city, but there are more things to do in Peterborough Ontario. We will highlight some of the key tourist attractions in this post, along with the historic Peterborough Lift Lock Cruise. 

Peterborough and the Kawarthas are a perfect day trip from Toronto to enjoy the countryside and relax for the weekend! They have something for everybody – from arts to history and beautiful scenic walks and parks. 

Peterborough Lift Lock Cruise
Peterborough Lift Lock Cruise

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Getting from Toronto to Peterborough Ontario 

There are many ways to get to Peterborough from Toronto. 

Drive – Toronto Downtown to Peterborough: Travel time is 1 hour and 30 minutes drive (one way)

Bus – Greyhound Canada operates buses from Toronto to Peterborough 5 times a day. Tickets cost $20 – $35 CAD and the journey takes 1 hour and  45 minutes one way. 

Train – VIA Rail can take you from Toronto to Peterborough station in 6.50 hours and the ticket costs $20+ CAD one way. May not be good option for a day trip from Toronto. 

Peterborough Ontario

Hotels in Peterborough Ontario

If you are planning a day or two in Peterborough, you can stay in one of the bed and breakfast hotels or vacation rentals in main town. Hotels will cost $100 CAD per night. Here are a few recommendations – 

  • Holiday Inn Peterborough-Waterfront
    • A 3 star hotel, located by the Marina
    • Close to sightseeing areas
    • Hotel site includes pool, free wifi, breakfast and free parking 
  • Best Western Plus Otonabee Inn
    • A 2 star hotel, located close to the Beavermead Beach
    • Hotel site includes pool, free wifi, breakfast and free parking 
Find more hotels in Peterborough Ontario

Save on your hotel - hotelscombined.com

Peterborough Lift Lock Cruise 

The Peterborough Lift Lock is a hydraulic-boat lift located in the city of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. The lock’s dual lifts are one of the highest hydraulic boat lifts in the world.

 Peterborough Lift Lock Cruise - Things to do in Peterborough Ontario
Lift Lock Peterborough

The construction of the liftlock started in 1904 and was a considerable accomplishment in the first years of the 20th century.

The Peterborough Lift Lock was designated a National Historic Site in 1979 and was named an Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1987.

Peterborough Lift Lock Cruise Experience

The Trent-Severn Waterway is known to many as a recreation paradise. And it is on this waterway that the Lift-Lock experience is built. This mode of transportation had shaped the history of the Kawartha area. Over time, the commercial value of the bridge declined. However its recreational value increased.

Trent Severn Waterway National Historic Site of Canada
Trent Severn Waterway National Historic Site of Canada

Visitors go to Peterborough and Trent area mostly to experience the Lift-lock river boat cruises. This site is managed by the Kent Family who has been taking care of the site for the last 21 years.

Peterborough Marina

There are many riverboat cruises and options to choose from, including luncheon and dinner cruises and private parties.

  • Check options for liftlock riverboat cruises with lunch here
  • Walking tour of the lift lock area here

I chose the 2 hour sight-seeing cruise. Its a 2 hour cruise ride, where in I was able to experience the lift-lock process in action, with live and entertaining commentary by the Cruise Captain.

Our tour started at the Peterborough Marina, next to the Holiday Inn. The tour covered the Little Lake, past the Peterborough Centennial Fountain and into the City of Peterborough portion of the 112-year-old lock system.

 Peterborough Lift Lock Cruise - Things to do in Peterborough Ontario
Nearing the hydraulic lift

The final lift was 65 feet or 19.8 metres above the city!


These views from the top are incredible. It was quite an amazing experience, something very unique.

You can only marvel at mankind’s inventions 🙂


Other then the cruise, the Peterborough marina has gardens and restaurants around. Nice place to spend Ontario summers and learn about its history.

Things to do in Peterborough Ontario

Other then the hydraulic lifts, Peterborough Ontario is also popular for its green space, arts and the beautiful countryside. 

Millennium Park

The Millennium Park is a beautiful oasis located in downtown Peterborough Ontario. Exact location is along the west bank of the Otonabee River in the downtown area.

This beautiful pathway is lined with flowers, sculptures, a butterfly garden and tons of green space and areas to sit and relax.

Millennium Park is part of the Otonabee River Trail and it connects to the Trans Canada Trail. This large park is used for big/special events like weddings, fundraisers, festivals, etc.

There is a boathouse in the park called the Silver Bean Café and you can sit and relax. The park also features an Irish Monument, a Pond (the Steve Chaisson) and the Aboriginal Monument.

You can rent kayaks, canoes, paddle boats and bicycles at a rental place here, inside the Millennium Park.

Look at the friendly geese below!

Peterborough Ontario

Jackson Park

Jackson Park is yet another beautiful green park located in Peterborough. It is located off of Parkhill Road, near the Jackson Creek.

Not only a sprawling green space to sit and admire the valley, but you can also walk the trail, enjoy the historical Pagoda Bridge and more.

Many visitors come here to enjoy a nice afternoon picnic or they bring their kids to play.

The Canadian Canoe Museum

A unique museum – the Canadian Canoe Museum – preserves the history and culture associated with canoes. There is tons of historical evidence to show how Canada’s history is shaped by voyageur during the fur trade times.

At this museum, you will see and learn about canoe history and also learn how to build a birch bark canoe (Preserving Skills Gallery). It is almost like a living history museum, where you will re-live the days when canoe was an important part of everyday cottage living life!

There is parking (free) available on site. The Canadian Canoe Museum is located on 910 Monaghan Road, Peterborough. They are open every day. Sunday hours are 12:00 to 05:00 pm, Thursdays are 10:00 am to 08:00 pm (open the longest) and rest of the days open from 10:00 am to 05:00 pm.

Entry fee to the Canoe museum is $10 CAD for adults (18+ years). Families can explore for $25 CAD.

The museum also offers voyageur canoe tours in the summer (to early fall) months. Voyageur tours costs $20 CAD per adult (weather dependent).

Peterborough Lift lock cruise
Boats at the Peterborough Dock

The Art Gallery of Peterborough

The Art Gallery of Peterborough is a free art gallery accessible and located in downtown Peterborough on 205 Crescent Street, next to the Little Lake.  

The art gallery features exhibitions, art workshops, etc. including the Annual Kawartha Autumn Studio Tour, which is a self driven art tour featuring local artists (fine arts and crafts).

Petroglyphs Provincial Park

Petroglyphs Provincial Park is an Ontario historic site and a provincial park. It was designated a heritage site in 1981. This park is actually located in Woodview area – northeast of Peterborough.

This site has the largest collection of ancient First Nations petroglyphs in Ontario.

The information centre at the park is open from 10:00 am to 05:00 pm everyday. There are interactive tools at the center to learn about petroglyphs and understand its history. There are hiking trails also in and around the area.

Parking is available. But you will have to walk a distance to reach the centre so wear comfortable walking shoes. 

Peterborough’s Riverview Park and Zoo

Peterborough’s Riverview Park and Zoo is one of the most popular attractions in town, especially for families with young kids. 

I definitely had a great time exploring Peterborough, Kawarthas and the hydraulic lifts! Hope you like them too.

Additional Resources List

Last Updated: June 27 2019

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 


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