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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gull River
Country Canada
Province Ontario
Counties Victoria County, Haliburton Highlands
Towns Minden, Coboconk, Norland
Source Artesian aquifers
 - location Throughout northern Haliburton county and southern Algonquin Park
 - elevation 400 m (1,312 ft) Approximately (Percy, Redstone and Kennisis Lakes)
Mouth Balsam Lake
 - location Coboconk dam, Kawartha Lakes, Victoria County
 - elevation 258 m (846 ft)
 - coordinates 44°39′34.5″N 78°47′48.7″W / 44.659583°N 78.796861°W / 44.659583; -78.796861 Coboconk dam
Discharge for Coboconk
 - average 20 m3/s (706 cu ft/s)
 - max 27 m3/s (953 cu ft/s)
 - min 12 m3/s (424 cu ft/s)

The Gull River and watershed, lying within the Victoria and Haliburton counties of south-central Ontario, is an important system of reservoir lakes which drain into Balsam Lake, the highest lake on the Trent-Severn Waterway. The lakes of the system were flooded during the 1800s by man-made cofferdams in order to preserve the flow of the river throughout the year.[1] While the original purpose of this was to aid lumberjacks - who were cutting pine, spruce and hemlock in the area - in sending logs downstream to Trenton after the initial spring flooding had subsided, it would serve a dual purpose when the lock between Balsam Lake and Cameron Lake was completed in 1873, connecting Trenton with Coboconk. Balsam lake was raised 5 metres to provide enough depth for steamboats passing through the lock.[1]

Since that time, the Gull River has been an integral part of the Trent-Severn Waterway. The system's lakes' water levels are closely monitored in order to preserve the reservoir year-round, as well as to protect the cottage lands adjacent to the lakes. Lake levels generally swell during the spring thaw and late fall, and settle back to normal by mid-June. The lowest water levels are in late winter.[2]

The river's lowest and southernmost lake, Silver Lake, lies upon the boundary line between the granite Canadian Shield, and the Limestone sheaths which lie south of it. The lakes and rivers north of Silver Lake twist and wind between the mountains and valleys created by the retreating glaciers at the end of the ice age. The result is the spectacular and pristine wilderness that has earned Highway 35 a reputation as one of the most scenic highways of Ontario.[3]

Most of the lake front property on the lower sections of the Gull River system was divided into deep narrow lots in the 1830s[4], unlike the regular-sized concessions in the adjacent land. These properties would in time develop into the many cottages that dot the lakes today.

An artificial white water course was constructed through Minden and has earned the river a reputation amongst enthusiasts and kayakers.[5]


While there are no sources as to the naming of the gull river, one of the possible origins is a translation of the name of the village of Coboconk. The name is translated from the Indian (Likely Ojibwa) term, Quash-qua-be-conk, meaning "where the gulls nest."[6] The town of Minden, about 30 kilometres (19 mi) north, was named Gull River prior to April 1, 1859.[7]


  1. ^ a b Angus, James T. (1999), A Respectable Ditch. A History of the Trent-Severn Waterway, 1833-1920, pp. 139–141, ISBN 0-7735-1821-5,, retrieved 2009-07-07  
  2. ^ Trent Watershed Lake Levels,, retrieved 2009-08-09  
  3. ^ 1993 Ontario Road map which designates "scenic highways".
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Whitewater Ontario - GULLfest (The Gull River)". Retrieved 2009-08-09.  
  6. ^
  7. ^ Murray, Florence B. 1963. Muskoka and Haliburton 1615-1875: A Collection of Documents. Florence B. Murray, Ed. The Champlain Society for the Government of Ontario, University of Toronto Press

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