Signposts - Trent Port

Photography by Lindi Pierce

Port of Call: Trenton

A tourist map posted at Trent Port Marina declares, “You are here!” This enthusiastic welcome might echo the sentiments of many of Trenton’s civic leaders, industrialists, and citizens who had envisaged a marina on this site for a great many years.

The distinctive marina building, topped by canvas sails snapping in the breeze, is a signpost for boaters. The marina’s motto, “Slip into something more comfortable,” doesn’t fail to deliver. There’s efficient moorage for 374 resident and visiting craft and a luxurious shower wing and boaters’ lounge. A function room with soaring ceiling and wide expanse of bayside windows provides a venue for celebrations. Trenton’s military presence is acknowledged by a handcrafted canoe built in honour of a fallen hero, purchased by a local businessman in support of the Military Family Resource Centre. In the entry hall, a plaque recognizes the mayors and municipal councils who saw the marina project through.

Gardens of grasses and native plants greet returning sailors, and paths following the shoreline and breakwater welcome waterfront strollers. A word to the wise walker – it’s popular spot with the resident gulls and geese. To the east are the Roy Bonisteel Memorial Gardens, their bronze statue commemorating a much-loved local journalist and broadcaster. Do join Roy on the bench.

Trent Port Marina sits adjacent to acres of playing field and undeveloped shoreline to the west. The building is reflected in the glass expanses of City Hall’s beautiful library (hands down winner of the ‘Best View from a Library’ award.) Were it not for an obelisk near the entrance to the marina park, visitors (and many residents) might have no idea of what came before.

Early industries developed along water transportation routes; railway lines followed. Town dumps and sewer outlets proliferated, reflecting our persistent belief the water would clean up our mess. During the first half of the 20th century, the shores of the Trent River and Bay of Quinte were lined with industries: coal yards, boat builders, a dairy, various manufactories, and a cold storage (which still operates) loading lake freighters at its docks. Where Fraser Park now delights with Christmas light displays, an unappealing slipway extended behind downtown businesses.

An historic Trenton company, the Trenton Cooperage Mill, founded 1908, once occupied the Trent Port Marina area. The mill produced barrels for the export of apples to England. Old photos show booms of logs floating offshore, acres of stacked lumber, a sawmill and planing mill with tall smokestacks, freight sheds, and railway shunting yards.

Fast forward. In the 1960s, with federal funds available for marine development, a plan for a marina on the property was floated, but sank, to resurface a few years later. When the Trent Port Marina finally opened in 2016, it was a great idea whose time had truly come.