Lock Tales - Big Chute Marine Railway


Parks Canada Logo.

[Introduction with lock master Chas McKie]

My name is Chas McKie, I’m the acting lock master at Big Chute Marine Railway.

[Aerial shot of Big Chute grounds]

Well the Big Chute Marine Railway is a special lock because it is quite unique, almost one of a kind.

[Lock master speaking]

[Marine train car carrying boats over the road]

[Marine car carrying boats up the hill]

This Marine Railway, the one I’m used to and I’ve seen operate in my time was constructed in 1977 and opened in 1978.

[Lock master speaking]

[Marine car close up]

The Marine Railway has 3 different types of slings set ups.

[Marine car going over the road]

The most common one used is what we call the Triple Sling, and that would carry boats up to an 8 foot beam.

[Boats being lifted out of the water on slings]

[Boat entering the marine car]

[Lock master speaking]

The second set of slings is what we call a double and will carry up to a 12 foot beam.

[Close up of slings]

And finally the big one, the single sling, which is the combination of 2 double slings.

[Single sling close up]

Is to carry anything above that 12 foot.

[Marine car coming out of the water]

So as with every lock station, lock times can vary.

[Aerial shot of marine car in motion]

Either it’s from operational control, how long everything takes, or how long perhaps the boater takes to bring its vessel in.

[Boats entering the marine car]

So on average for the Big Chute Marine Railway, we can do about 15 minutes.

[View from on the marine car]

[Tail of boat hanging off marine car]

It takes about 7 minutes to run up or down the hill, and hopefully with skilled boaters we can get to that mark.

[Transfer time lapse]

[Boats exiting the marine car]

This is the 150th anniversary of Canada, we've expected quite an increase in volume due to the free lockages.

[Boat traffic approaching the lock]

[Aerial shot of transfer]

I can tell you this year already, the boats have definitely arrived.

We have on average about 120 boats per day, given weekend especially we've actually seen it up to 180 boats on a weekend.

[Aerial shot of boats exiting the marine car]

[Ground shot of boat being carried]

We expect to see that continue this year.

[Time lapse of transfer]

[Lock master speaking]

We do appreciate the visit, just so you know it’s always sunny at the Big Chute so hope to see you again real soon.

[Aerial shot of lock station]

Parks Canada Logo.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Parks Canada, 2017

Canada wordmark.

Big Chute Marine Railway is a short drive from Coldwater. It is the only marine railway of its kind in North America. Big Chute has large grounds for picnicking and boater camping.

Take a summer motorcycle tour to the Big Chute Marine Railway and into cottage country. 

Rev up for a day-long motorcycle cruise with friends to the Big Chute Marine Railway on the Trent-Severn Waterway. Start your summer cavalcade riding on the Upper Big Chute Road winding 42-km (26 mi) through the rock bluffs and pines of the Canadian Shield that inspired the Group of Seven. Outdoor beauty meets engineering innovation at the Big Chute Marine Railway, where the Severn River has carved a narrow chute out of solid granite. This is where North America’s only marine railway portages boats in a 100-ton open-carriage. Watch from the observation deck as skilled staff scramble up and down ladders to operate the slings and carriage that lift boats almost 18 m (60 ft) over a ridge between the Severn River and Gloucester Pool on Georgian Bay, then slips them gently back into the water on the other side. Stay to barbecue, picnic or swap tales from the road.