The Rideau Waterway is a boater's perfect choice for a picturesque voyage through 202 kilometres of lakes, rivers and canals, linking Canada's capital, Ottawa, to the historic city of Kingston on Lake Ontario.
The Rideau Canal is the oldest continuously operating canal in North America. According to www.realontario.ca, "It was built as part of a military defense system of Upper Canada (now Ontario) as a supply route that was out-of-range of American cannons. Here the past and present, nature and culture live in harmony and create an unforgettable Canadian Heritage River experience."
The Rideau is accessible from many regions. Residents of Quebec, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and other regions of Ontario are within trailer boat driving distance of the Rideau, says the website. As long as you can reach the Great Lakes or the St. Lawrence River, it's easy to get to the Rideau.
A unique feature of the Rideau is that it allows visitors to travel in a loop. Travel up from Kingston, down the Ottawa River to Montreal, and from there head down to the Great Lakes, or head into the U.S. through Lake Champlain. You have many options and plenty to see.
Wildlife and nature lovers can spot loons, blue heron, osprey and of course frogs and turtles along their trip. Many species of duck stop off at the Rideau for several weeks in the spring and fall seasons.
Take a short break from the water, dock your boat and experience some of the many trails along the way. According to www.realontario.ca, the most extensive trail is the Rideau Trail between Kingston to Ottawa. Those seeking a real adventure can hike the whole section or split the trip at Narrows Lock. The TransCanada Trail extends through the area and also affords visitors wonderful hiking opportunities.
You can also visit the Foley Mountain Conservation Area, located near Westport. It offers swimming, group camping, hiking and walking trails, a beach, and a picnic area. There is also the Perth Wildlife Reserve, between Perth and Rideau Ferry, which features a wildlife area and a goose habitat with a goose landing zone.
There is no need to worry about the cold weather though, during the cold winter months the trails also incorporate hiking, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing trails. Another option is to strap on your skates and enjoy the winter weather by skating on the frozen canal in Ottawa. It has become a favourite pastime of winter visitors, especially during Ottawa's winter festival, Winterlude in February.
When you are ready to head back to the waters, canoeing is a great way to see the Rideau Canal. It is entirely accessible by canoe.
If you are more of a sportsman, the lakes and rivers of the Rideau Waterway offer great fishing opportunities. Species caught along the length of the Rideau Waterway include Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Lake Trout, Yellow Perch, Black Crappie and Walleye (Yellow Pickerel).
The canal opens up in late May and closes in mid-October.
Visitors will see locks that are operated today much as they were in 1832. The large wooden lock doors are opened and closed using hand cranks which are also used to let water in and out of the locks. Most of the stone blocks that you'll see are original to the 19th century. Most locks provide washrooms, overnight anchoring, hiking trails and picnic facilities, including tables, benches and barbecue grills.
A great way to spend a lazy afternoon is watching boats of all descriptions go up and down in the lock.
If a boater finds themselves with any needs, they need not look far as Rideau is well serviced with marinas offering fuel, repair services, supplies, and transient dockage.
So if you are looking for a new boating destination, sail down one of Ontario's most popular and scenic waterways and experience everything the Rideau Canal has to offer.