In the Kawartha Highlands region, the May long weekend signals the unofficial start of summer.
The village of Buckhorn is gearing up for an influx of cottagers who will make their way to the Kawarthas and surrounding areas which boasts many lakes and is considered a boating paradise.
The Trent-Severn Waterway is officially open for the boating season and George Lazarakos, his son Sam and friend Robert Horkits were the first to go through Lock 31 in Buckhorn.
“Ohhhh, it’s been a long winter and so we need a nice summer,” said Lazarkos from behind the wheel of a personal watercraft. “We’re going to enjoy this sunshine and water and the folks at the locks and have a good time.”
Parks Canada which operates Trent-Severn Waterway’s 44 lock stations located between Trenton and Port Severn are all open for 2018, a navigation system which saw a 30 per cent increase of use over the 2016 season.
“I’m just glad it’s open for us,” said Horkits. “We came yesterday and it was closed, so we did some riding on Pigeon Lake, so we’re excited.”
Right next to Lock 21, it’s the calm before the storm at the Main Street Landing restaurant, as staff are preparing for the cottage country boom that comes with the May long weekend.
This season is manager and server Connor Livings’ third summer at the restaurant and so he knows what to expect, and he’s making sure everyone is well prepared.
“We have some new staff this year as we’re trying to get more bodies in here to get their feet wet and see what the summer rush is like and get them acclimatized to the environment,” said Livings. “It’s a great place to be for summer, there are some real dull days in the winter.”
Like most communities along the Trent-Severn, tourism is Buckhorn’s bread and butter, and businesses rely on cottagers and boaters to fill the tills. That’s why it’s all hands on deck at the Home Hardware, as managers say this is their busiest weekend of the year.
“We’re busy with everything, from boating, docking, plumbing, water toys, clothing,” said Home Hardware co-owner Deb Alexander.
Manager Michael Cross can attest and says many cottagers are coming in to get items they need to open and fix things at the cottage.
“Everyone on staff is here, we have to be,” said Cross. “We’ll probably be three, four times busier this weekend than last.”
From May 18 to June 21, the Locks are open weekdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and on weekends and holidays from 9 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. as extended hours begin June 22.
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