Peterborough is a city of 125,000 people, on the Otonabee River in central-eastern Ontario, 125 kilometres (78 miles) northeast of Toronto. It is 75 km (a one hour drive) via Highway 115 northeast from Oshawa. Peterborough is the gateway to and market center of the Kawarthas cottage country.

City of Peterborough

Peterborough History

The area around Peterborough was settled by the First Nations sometime after the glaciers retreated, for about the last 3,000 years. The Iroquois Indians–and later the Mississaugas–lived, hunted and fished in the area. In 1615, Samuel de Champlain traveled through the area along the Trent River system. In 1818 Adam Scott built a sawmill and gristmill where Jackson’s Creek flows into the Otonabee. In 1825, 2000 Irish immigrants from Cork settled in the area, as part of a British plan to resettle Irish poor.

In 1850, Peterborough was incorporated as a town, when it had a population of over 2,000. By that time the boat building industry got started in Peterborough, and by 1930 boat motor manufacturing joined in. In 1904 the Peterborough Lift Lock was added to the Trent-Severn Waterway.

Today, the community is the business and commercial centre of the Kawartha Lakes vacation & cottage country, and the city has grown to a population of 748,000 (2019)

Peterborough - Art Gallery of Peterborough
Peterborough - Art Gallery of Peterborough

Peterborough Attractions

Art Gallery of Peterborough

250 Crescent Street
Peterborough, Ontario K9J 2G1
(705) 743-9179 Fax (705) 743-8168

Opened in 1974, the gallery is situated on the shore of Little Lake beside Del Crary Park and features 1004 pieces from around the world, as well as art from local and First Nations artists and artisans. Open: Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is free. The Gallery is wheelchair accessible.

Canadian Canoe Museum

2077 Ashburnham Dr, Peterborough, ON K9L 1P8 (new address in 2023!)
(705) 748-9153 Fax: (705) 748-0616 1-866-34-CANOE (22663)

This unique national heritage centre is housed in the former Outboard Marine Company, built in 1913, andexplores the canoe’s enduring significance to the peoples of Canada. Exhibits include Inuit kayaks, birch bark and wooden canoes, West Coast cedar dugouts, as well as paddled craft from around the world. Self-guided, with guided group tours available. Open: Monday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm; Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm . Admission. Allow 90 minutes.

Cathedral Of St. Peter-In-Chains

411 Reid Street, PO Box 175
Peterborough, Ontario K9J 6Y8
On the NE corner of Hunter St. and Reid St., Peterborough
705 745-4681, Fax 705 745-9258

The parish of St. Peter-in-Chains was established in 1826 to serve the large Irish Catholic population of the surrounding Robinson Settlement. This building, in the Gothic Revival style was erected in 1837-1838 from stone from nearby Jackson’s Creek, is one of the oldest remaining Catholic churches in Ontario. In 1882, when the Diocese of Peterborough was created St. Peter’s was designated a cathedral, and was extensively renovated and enlarged. Although altered on various occasion, St. Peter-in-Chains has retained its original elegance and imposing form. Open for Mass Saturday: 5.00 PM and Sunday: 8.30, 10.00 and 11.30 AM

Catherine Parr Traill home (1802 – 1899)

N side of Smith St. east of Clementi St, Lakefield
1 block north of Bridge St.

A member of the literary Strickland family (her sister is Susanna Moodie), the talented author married Lieut. Thomas Traill and emigrated to Upper Canada in 1832. For seven years they struggled unsuccessfully to establish a farm in then Ontario wilderness, but then moved to Ashburnham and Rice Lake. Her best known book, 1836 “The Backwoods of Canada” is based on her pioneering experiences. In 1862, following her husband’s death, Mrs. Traill’s daughters (she had 9 children) purchased “Westove” and she lived here the rest of her life. In her 1885 “Studies of Plant Life in Canada” and other works she proved herself a gifted botanist.

Del Crary Park

On Little Lake, close to downtown Peterborough

This green space hosts free outdoor events and concerts are held here during the summer months, including the international Festival of Lights fireworks displays, Wednesday and Saturday evenings from June through August. Also home of the Peterborough Yacht Club.

District Court House & Jail

470 Water St, Peterborough
E side of Spurway Place, between Brock St. and Murray St.

In 1838 the District of Colborne was established, with Peterborough designated the “district town” and the construction of a court house and jail began. At a cost of over £7000, the court house was completed in 1840 and the jail in 1842 with stone quarried from Jackson’s Park, adding to the community structures of notable size and design.

Government House – 1825

SE corner of Water & Simcoe Streets, Peterborough

On this site stood the 1825 Government House, the log dwelling and office of Peter Robinson, who assisted 2200 Irish immigrants in settling here by the British Government, and who’s name was given to the settlement.

Grover – Nicholls House

Masonic Temple
415 Rubidge St, Peterborough
NW corner of Rubidge St. and Hall St,1 block north of Hunter St.

An outstanding example of an 1847 Greek Revival architecture with Palladian touches built for a local merchant. The square pillars of this house are a classical Greek feature popular because they were less costly than round columns. Robert Nicholls acquired the property in 1851, and it remained in his family, distinguished in Peterborough for public service and philanthropy, until 1906. The local Masonic Lodge held meetings here in 1849-53, and in 1950 the Masons purchased this imposing house.

Peterborough Lift Lock

Hunter Street East, Peterborough
Mailting: P.O. Box 567
Peterborough, Ontario K9J 6Z6
(705) 750-4950 1-888-773-8888 Fax: (705) 742 9644

Opened in 1904, this is the highest (20 metres) hydraulic lift lock in the world and the first of two built in North America, both on the Trent-Severn Waterway. It operates on a balance principle, with two side-by side locks, and when water is added to the upper chamber and it gains weight, hydraulic pressure lifts the other (lower) lock.  There are plenty of services within a 10-minute walk to the East City area of Peterborough. The Peterborough Lift Lock Visitor Centre is located next to the lock, and has public washrooms, as well as exhibits and films. The Visitor Centre is open daily during the navigation season.

Peterborough Petroglyphs Provincial Park

2249 Northeys Bay Rd, Woodview, ON K0L 3E0
General Delivery: Woodview, Ontario K0L 3E0
(from Peterborough, drive on #7 east  past Norwood, turn north on Country road 44/46)
(705) 877-2552

Situated on an outcrop of white marble on the Canadian Shield, deep within a forest northeast of Peterborough, the Peterborough Pertoglyph site is one of the largest know concentrations of prehistoric rock carvings in Canada. 900 images of realistic animal and human forms, as wells as abstract and sybolic representations show the spiritual and intellectual life of the Algonquin Indians who carved them between 900 – 1400 AD. Hiking trails meander through surrounding forests, wetlands and rocky ridges. This site is a sacred place and a monument to the artistic ability and senstitivity. Explore The Learning Place interpretive centre. The petroglyph site is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm This day use park is open 10 am- 5 pm daily from the Second Friday in May to Thanksgiving

Serpent Mounds Park

(Formerly Serpent Mounds Provincial Park)
South of Highway 7 near Rice Lake and the village of Keene.
Hiawatha FIrst Nation
R.R.#2 Keene Ontario K0L 2G0

2000 years ago, ancient Native people camped, hunted, fished, and buried their ancestors here. This is the only Canadian example of a mound of serpentine or zig-zag shape, for which the Park gets its name. On land owned by the Hiawatha First Nation, the site was leased by the province for the past 41 years to operate as a provincial park, and in 1996 was returned to the First Nation who will continue to run the park.

Showplace Performance Centre

290 George St. North, Box 242
Peterborough, Ontario, K9J 6Y8
Box Office: (705) 742-SHOW (7469) (866) 444-2154
Administration: (705) 742-7089 Fax: (705) 742-1055

Showplace Peterborough, located downtown, was originally an 1947 Odeon Theatre that was renovated in 1996, and today is a 647 seat, state of the art performance facility.

Sir Sandford Fleming 1827-1915

In Fleming Park, west side of Alymer Street between
Brock and Hunter Streets, Peterborough.

Sir Sandford Fleming was the inventor of standard time and pioneer in world communications. Fleming was born in Kircaldy, Scotland and trained in engineering and surveying before emigrating to Canada and settling in Peterborough in 1845. In 1851 hedesigned the first Canadian postage stamp, helped build the Intercolonial Railway and as chief engineer& surveyor of the trans-continental Canadian Pacific Railway (1871-1887), and in 1879, proposed a world-wide uniform system for standard time, and advocated a cable route linking Canada and Australia. He was knighted in 1897

St. John’s Church – 1834

99 Brock Street
north side of Hunter St., just east of Water St.
Peterborough, ON, K9H C2P2
(705) 745-7624

An Anglican congregation was formed in Peterborough by the Rev. Samuel Armour in 1826, with first services in a schoolhouse. St. John’s was begun in 1834 and opened in the summer of 1836 and is built in Early English Gothic Revival style. In 1882 it was extensively renovated and is the oldest remaining church in Peterborough County, and is still in continuous use.

Hutchison House Museum 1837

270 Brock St, K9H 2P9, Peterborough
Between Bethune St. and Stewart St.
705-743-9710 Fax: 705-740-0395

This stone house, completed in 1837, first occupied by Dr. John Hutchinson, Peterborough’s first permanent physician. A native of Kircaldy, Scotland, Hutchinson had come to Upper Canada by 1818 and practised in Rice Lake& Port Hope before moving to Peterborough in 1830. During a 1947 typhus epidemic, Dr. Hutchinson contracted typhus while attending sick immigrants and was one of thirty-three victims in Peterborough.

Since 1969 the house has been a living museum with costumed guides. Visitors can tour the house and see the 1840s doctor’s study with medical instruments, books and furnishings; the Sir Sandford Fleming room with survey equipment, Fleming’s original map of Peterborough and other memorabilia; with Special Days throughout the year. Scottish Teas are served weekend afternoons in June & September, daily afternoons during July and August.

Trent-Severn Waterway


Passes through Peterborough and includes the Peterborough Lift Lock, the world’s largest hydraulic lift lock, which opened in 1904. It is also the world’s highest lift lock with a rise of 20 metres (65 feet). More about the Trent-Severn.

Youngs Point

First settled in 1825 by Frances Young and family from Tipperary Ireland. Young’s Point is the home of Lock 27 of the Trent-Severn Waterway network, built in the early 1870s, with a lift of 7 feet. Travel south through Katchewanooka Lake to Lakefield & Peterborough, travel north through Clear Lake to Stoney, Buckhorn & Pigeon Lakes and beyond. Also home to the Young’s Point Radio Control Model Flying Club

Peterborough - Trent Severn Waterway
Peterborough - Trent Severn Waterway

Peterborough, Ontario Area Map