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Kirkfield, Ontario

Kirkfield is a small community located in the city of Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, and is located just off the Ontario Southern Route, and is 44 km southeast of Orillia and 38 km northwest of Lindsay (Kawartha Lakes). Kirkfield remains a place of interest for those intrigued by the engineering feats of the Trent-Severn Waterway and the Kirkfield Lift Lock (just north of town).

The town has a small retail sector and is home to The Sir William Mackenzie Inn, home of one of Canada’s important home-grown railway magantes.

Kirkfield History

In 1864, the unincorporated village, being predominantly Scottish at the time, chose the name of Kirkfield, after Kirk’ o’ Field in Edinburgh.

The history of Kirkfield is intricately linked to the construction of the Trent-Severn Waterway, a 386-kilometer-long canal route that connects Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay in Lake Huron. The project, initiated in the 1800s, aimed to improve transportation and facilitate the movement of goods through a series of locks, canals, and natural water bodies. One of the notable features along the Trent-Severn Waterway is the Kirkfield Lift Lock, which at 15 metres (49 ft) is the second-highest hydraulic lift lock in the world. The lift lock was completed in 1907 and plays a crucial role in managing the elevation changes along the waterway. Boats are lifted or lowered in a chamber filled with water, and it remains an engineering marvel of its time.

The construction of the Trent-Severn Waterway and the Kirkfield Lift Lock had a significant impact on the local economy. It facilitated the transportation of goods and people, fostering economic development in the region. The lift lock, in particular, became a focal point for trade and contributed to the growth of nearby communities.

Kirkfield was also served by a railway line that further enhanced its ability to get people and goods to and from other markets.  Kirkfield saw the development of services and amenities to support the needs of travelers and residents.

Kirkfield is the birthplace of Canadian railway, transit, and electrical entrepreneur William Mackenzie. His railway, the Canadian Northern Railway, was Canada’s second transcontinental, begun in 1895 and opened in 1915. It went bankrupt during World War I, but was merged with other bankrupt companies including the Grand Trunk Railway to become Canadian National Railways in 1923. His 1888 home is now the The Sir William Mackenzie Inn, and is rumoured to be haunted.



Kirkfield businesses along main street

Kirkfield Ontario Attractions

Kirkfield Lift Lock (Lock 36)

2023 Kirkfield Road, County Road #6, Kirkfield, Ontario

The Kirkfield Lift Lock is a historic hydraulic lift lock and an engineering marvel that is part of the Trent-Severn Waterway connecting Lake Ontario (at Trenton) with Lake Huron and Georgian Bay (at Port Severn). The locak was built between 1900 and 1905 and was built using metal frames rather than concrete towers to guide the metal tubs. This single-chamber lock will operate on demand and take an estimated 60 minutes to change elevation.

Victoria Rail Trail

The trailhead is accessible from various points along its route.

The Victoria Rail Trail is a scenic trail that follows the old Victoria Railway line. It’s popular for hiking, biking, and birdwatching, offering picturesque views of the countryside.

Balsam Lake Provincial Park

2238 Hwy 48, Kirkfield, ON K0M 2B0
(705) 454-3324

Balsam Lake Provincial Park is located nearby and offers outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, and camping. The park surrounds Balsam Lake, the largest lake in the Trent-Severn Waterway abnd is great for canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding with  rentals available at the park.

Kirkfield, Ontario Area Map