The Kawarthas or Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario is located one to two hours by car (depending where in the region you are travelling) North-East of Toronto, and is considered part of Central-East Ontario. This is one of Ontario's prime cottage and vacation areas, encompassing the County of Peterborough and the City of Kawartha Lakes (formerly Victoria County) and is encircled by Durham region and Haliburton, Northumberland and Prince Edward Counties.
The Kawartha Lakes is a region that, as the name suggests, includes many lakes -- in fact hundreds of lakes and rivers, and offers some of Ontario's best sport and recreational fishing. The region attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, mostly during the Spring to Autumn months, who come to cottages and resorts in the area, or to some of the many hotels, motels, inns and excellent campgrounds. There is year round activity, though, including fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, golf, festivals, museums, cultural and historic attractions, shopping and more.
(Greater Peterborough Region consists of the Counties of Peterborough, Northumberland, Haliburton and the City of Kawartha Lakes with a combined population nearing 300,000) swells from May - October with seasonal residents and visitors, although young people will probably find the best night life during the school year when thousdands of Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College students make Peterborough their home.
The City of Peterborough is considered the hub of the Kawarthas, as well as being the regions major business, education, cultural, and health care centre. This is a varied community -- a retirement city, but at the same time a university and college city. A permanent population of approximately 80,000
The city of Peterborough is reachable by Greyhound intercity bus services from Toronto (8 times a day) and Ottawa (approx. 2X a day). Otherwise, the car is your best, or only, bet to visiting the Kawarthas.
Highway 28 forms a central spine through the Kawarthas and attractions such as Petroglyphs Provincial Park and Stoney Lake are easily accessible from the highway.
1. Go to the Liftlocks in summer between Victoria Day and Canadian Thanksgiving when the Trent Severy waterway is actually operational. A good visitor's centre.
2. Visit Trent University's Lady Eaton College. One of the best examples of modern architecture in Canada.
3. Head out on Highway 28 towards Petroglyphs Provincial Park. See pre-Columbian Aboriginal rock carvings and hike out to High Falls. Stoney Lake is beautiful in summertime.
Again, Peterborough's small size is not a reflection of its excellent choice of watering holes. Again, a list:
The One and Only Café - On Hunter, east of Aylmer. Bohemian, converted warehouse with a generous patio overlooking Jackson Creek. Fantastic during the summertime; Dortmunder Aktienbrauerei (DAB) on tap and a pinball machine that's still just 25 cents a play. The Gordon Best theater sits on top.
The Red Dog Tavern - On Hunter, east of Aylmer. Down at heel blues joint that's actually two bars: the Red Dog and the Underdog. Good live acts.
The Montreal House - NE corner of King and Aylmer. A traditional dive bar that was, reputedly, the last bar to admit women in Canada in 1987. Nevertheless, this is a great place to sit at long tables, listen to bluegrass and drink real hoser beer like Molson Stock Ale. Recommended.
St. Veronus - SW corner of Hunter and Water. Belgian pub ozzing with ambience. Extensive selection of Belgian abbey beers, fantastic wood decor, good moules frites. Again, a solid proposition for a Saturday night.
The Second Floor Lounge - Above the Purple Rooster (avoid), the eponymous Second Floor lounge is a pretty cozy joint that sometimes hosts live acts. Extensive back patio for smokers.
The Sapphire Room - Hunter, between George and Water. Bohemian, grungy martini room in the East Village vein. Not bad.
The Zoo Bar - a nasty dive that was universally known for being rough and tumble. Charlotte and George Sts.
McThirsty's Pint - Across from the Zoo bar on Charlotte. A nice, traditional neighbourhood pub with an extensive beer selection on tap. Good atmosphere.
While most of Peterborough remains relatively safe, the downtown core, with a high number of bars in close proximity, has become a little more dodgy in recent years. There has been a marked increase in vandalism, generally to nearby shops, and sometimes to parked cars. It's advised to leave the downtown core before the bars close and drunken patrons fill the streets looking for taxis or mischief. Be advised that the Galaxy Cinema is located in the same general vicinity as these bars. Be alert and careful when leaving a long running late show.