Call it Chemong or call it Chemung, it is a major and muddy lake in the Kawarthas. Most people still call it Chemong but officially the name has been changed back to Chemung. The original Ojibway name Chemung means “muddy” which it obviously was before it was deepened, by the effects of the Trent Severn Waterway. It is still a fairly shallow lake averaging about 8 feet in depth with a maximum depth of 22 feet. There are few obstacles to navigation on the lake. The lake has some small islands including Big Island, Goat Island and Kelly Island mostly occupied by cottages.
The Peter Robinson migration of the 1820s which first settled Peterborough, included southern parts of Chemong Lake. Reaching Chemong, just north of Peterborugh the early settlers found the lake to be a barrier to expanding settlement and the beautiful area around the lake developed slowly. Many lives were lost trying to cross Chemong in the 1800s, and a variety of floating bridges were used before the permanent structure of the James A. Gifford Causeway was finally built and opened in June of 1949.
Lake Chemung is 14 kilometers long and one kilometer wide extending northeast from Fowlers Corners in the south and the lively Village of Bridgenorth on the east shore to the Curve Lake First Nation territory on the north shore. The Curve Lake nation was formerly known as the Mud Lake Indian Band. On the West side of the lake is the less developed area of Ennismore which was previously known as the Gore of Emily. The bridges across the lake created east to west access to and from Pigeon Lake and the Township of Ennismore to Bridgenorth which was due north by road from Peterborough. In 1998 the Townships either side of the lake merged to form Smith- Ennismore Township. The larger area around the lake is part of the Township of Selwyn since 2001 when Smith-Ennismore Township merged with the Village of Lakefield. Now with many cottagers heading north and west from Peterborough the way through Bridgenorth and the Causeway are active shopping areas especially in the summer. Bridgenorth is a haven for cottage country shoppers with many businesses, restaurants and services along the main road, Ward Street.
Chemong Lake is accessible through the Trent Severn Waterway between the Bobcaygeon and Buckhorn Locks. Harrington Narrows going south from Buckhorn Lake leads the way to Chemong. The lake has lots of water access with marinas including Star Marina and the Old Causeway Marina in Bridgenorth. Mars Marina and Chemong Marina north of the Causeway in Ennismore, and Fife’s Bay Marina are on the southeast shore of the lake. There are also a few basic public launch spots around the lake for small boats. Fishing is popular in the lake with walleye, muskellunge and both large and smallmouth bass. There are cottage rentals on Chemong Lake but no major resorts. The lake is a short drive from Peterborough and is a pleasure to visit even if only for a day. Lake Chemong or Chemung is a beautiful and still mostly undeveloped lake to explore, visit or call home.