Ontario Southern Route of the Trans-Canada using highways #7, #12, and #400

What to See and Do on Ontario’s Southern Route

This route  passest three popular waterways: the Rideau Canal, The Trent-Sewvern Waterway, and Georgian Bay. Highway 7  west of Ottawa passes by the richly historic Rideau Lakes and then just south of the Halliburton Highlands and Kawartha Lakes. The Trent-Severn  has stunningly engineered locks as it drops to the rugged glacier-scoured Georgian Bay coastline.

Ontario-Southern Route Cottage Country and Georgian Bay

Ontario’s Southern Route Overview

Cottage Country and Lakes

This Southern Route takes the Trans-Canada close to Toronto (but NOT to or through Toronto). It starts at Ottawa, takes the #7 west through the Rideau Lakes and Rideau Canal  around Perth. Continue west along the Kawartha Lakes around Peterborough and Lindsay. The route then heads northwest on Highway 15 to Beaverton, and on Highway 12 along the Lake Simcoe portion of  the Trent-Severn Canal route to Orillia.

Rugged Georgian Bay

From there, head along Highway 12 (which continues connecting to Highway 400 north from Coldwater past the Muskoka Lakes tourist area to the highway’s east and the Island Country of Georgian Bay to the highway’s west. Highway 400 passes Parry Sound, crosses the French River (the unofficial boundary between norhtern and southern Ontario) before reaching Sudbury. This Southern Route of the Trans-Canada is 676 kilometres long.


Making the Southern Route a Stand-Alone Vacation

As much as Google Maps says “it can be driven in 8 hours”, in reality for a vacationer, this detour can be a week of sightseeing. Start in Ottawa

Day 1: Perth and Rideau Canal

Day 2: Kawartha Lakes and Trent-Severn Canal

Day 3: Peterborough and Lindsay and the lift locks

Day 4: Orillia, Midland and Penetanguishene

Day 5: Honey Harbour,  and the Muskoka Lakes

Day 6: Parry Sound and French River

Day 7: Sudbury area (there is a Group of Seven Tour to see the area’s most-painted scenery)

From there, you can loop back along the Main Trans-Canada Route along Highway #17 (Sudbury-Mattawa and Mattawa-Ottawa) back to Ottawa, where a visitor can spend from 2 to 5 days just taking in the city’s history, culture, national museums, local museums, waterways, and recreation paths.

If you are set on visiting Toronto, then follow our To-From Toronto itineraries, which use the east-west Highway 401 and north-south Highway 400

Towns and Cities along the Southern Route of the Trans-Canada Highway

Trans-Canada Highway Locales to search for  businessess, attractions, accommodations for your Southern Route #7/15/400 Roadtrip

Visit Barrie, Ontario


Visit Kingston ON

Kingston & St Lawrence

Visit Oshawa Ontario


Visit Ottawa-Gatineau-national capital