The Rideau Canal Waterway:
Following the War of 1812 - 1814 between Great Britain and the United States a survey of what became the Rideau Canal was carried out to establish an alternative route between Montreal and the Great Lakes. To this end, Lieutenant-Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers was sent to oversee the task of making a series of small lakes and the Cataraqui River into a navigable waterway.
Kingston Whig-Standard Boat Tour of The Rideau Canal
Actual construction started in 1827 and the canal opened 5 years later in 1832 with 47 locks at 25 separate lock stations. The total length of the route is 202 kilometers, with about 19 kilometers being man-made, with the rest of the canal being the already existing lakes and rivers.
Although it carried freight and passengers in small steamboats for almost a century, the Rideau Canal was never economically viable, and is now used entirely by pleasure craft.
Today, the Rideau Canal Waterway is a boater's paradise, attracting pleasure boats from across North America to travel its 202 kilometre (125 mile) length. Entry points to the canal are; at the North end of the canal, Ottawa (Canada's capital), and at the South end, Kingston, with entry into Lake Ontario.
The Rideau Canal is actually two separate river systems flowing in two separate directions. The Rideau River originates at Big Rideau Lake and flows north-east to Ottawa, with the Cataraqui River starting at Newboro Lake and flowing south-west to Kingston. The highest point of the canal is at Newboro, 180 meters above sea level.
Maximum permitted dimensions of boats are 27.4 m (90 ft) length, 7.9m (26 ft) width, and 6.7m (22 ft) height. Water depth is maintained at 1.5 metres (5.0 feet) minimum.
The Rideau Canal is the oldest continuously operated canal in North America. The Canal appears and operates much as it did 150 years ago with limestone locks, hand-operated cranks, wooden lock master houses, and stone supply buildings. Each lock is unique in its history and Parks Canada staff are always ready to offer the tourist any assistance they can. Most locks provide washrooms, overnight mooring and picnic facilities, including tables, benches and barbecue grills.
The Canal is usually opened between May 20th and October 12th. It can be navigated in as little as three days by power boat, but this doesn't leave much time to enjoy the sights, sounds and history of one of Canada's greatest engineering marvels. Most lock stations have washrooms, parking for bicycles, first-aid, overnight dockage and picnic areas, including tables, benches and barbecue grills.