The Rideau Canal
The Rideau Canal is a system of 47 locks. It is 202 km long and connects the city of Ottawa, Ontario, on the Ottawa River to the city of Kingston, Ontario, on Lake Ontario.
The canal was opened in 1832 as a precaution in case of war with the United States. The Duke of Wellington supported the building of the Rideau Waterway because Upper Canada (Ontario) was at risk along the St. Lawrence between Montreal and Kingston.
It is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America. In 2007, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Scenes that caught our eye
The Rideau has a very varied landscape: pastures, swamp, Canadian Shield, cottages, and picturesque towns like Merrickville.
Paddling pics from the Rideau
The crazy 40C + heat finally broke once the storms passed us at Kingston. The kids could come out from under the umbrella and sun covers to finally enjoy the weather.
Wildlife caught on camera
Crossing our Final Height of Land
We are enjoying a family cheers at Newboro lock to celebrate our final height of land. From here to Quebec City we are travelling downhill (down the locks, with the current). Hard to believe we are in the home stretch.
Where do we go from here?
After a quick tour of our nations stunning capital city, we will be paddling down the Ottawa River to Montreal. We will then be travelling the St. Lawrence to Quebec City for our big celebration on August 31. Anyone who is planning to join us, but hasn’t confirmed, please let us know as soon as you can. Celebration time!
- Muggy, hot weather breeds thunderstorms. We sailed as long as we could, then we pulled onto a small beach and battened down the hatches. We met Joyce on the road. She took us to Crystal, Robin, and Ben’s house where we were invited in out of the storm. Jude and Ben played while it stormed. We are grateful to them for taking us in, and for giving us a delicious pizza to take with us.
- We enjoyed a quick chat with the Dodges at the Glenora Ferry. They have been following our adventure and wished us well.
- We owe a huge thank you to Jarrod and Nichola Harkness of Harrowsmith (near Kingston). They have been very good friends of Geoff’s since childhood. We base-camped out of their house for 3 days of paddling and we spent a day at their home to sit out the big storm that passed through Kingston. Their son, Jeremy, is the same age as Jude. They had a great time playing and swimming in the pool. They just had a new baby, Sophia, a couple of weeks earlier. They still found time to shuttle us to and from our canoe, cook delicious meals, and help us resupply for the next leg. We had a wonderful time catching up with them. Thank you for sharing your home with us.
- Maureen and Paul Sheridan (Nana Mo and Uncle Paul) came down for a visit while we were staying at Nichola and Jarrod’s house (Maureen is Nicholas’s mom and has also know Geoff since the was 10). We had a great visit and appreciated all of their help with the kids (baby holding is always much needed and loved) and cooking delicious meals.
- We weren’t sure if another storm was going to pass by and it was getting windy, so we pulled into the nearest marina. It turned out to be the Kingston Yacht Club. They were very accommodating and consented to letting us store our canoe for a day or so. Brett helped us find a place to put our canoe, and Philip Hart (spelling?) helped us move our gear and get settled.
- Bill Stringeof and Callum Walter are Parks Canada employees who went beyond the call of duty and helped us carry gear up to our campsite on a flight of locks at Jones Falls. We really appreciated the help!
- Nice chat with Barbara Cotterill at Chaffey’s Locks.
- Eleanor Thomas saw us paddle into Newboro Lock and immediately offered to help us carry our gear up to the picnic table. She gave us a golden tip about taking the “mud cut”. It cut off a mile of paddling for us. We needed every minute to make the Poonamalie Lock before closing. We were 4 minutes late, but they locked us through. We made it to Smith Falls in time for a delicious dinner!
- Nice visit with Lawren Steventon and Laurie Ross at Newboro Lock as well. They helped us get on our way in the morning.
- Bill and Karen Hurdling bought Jude a Rideau Canal pennant at the Newboro lock. A great souvenir!
- We bumped into Bob Mock and Robert Neeson at the Rob Roy Pub in Smith’s Falls. We had chatted with them in a lock earlier. Thank you very much for buying us dinner and ice cream. Jude really enjoyed the tour of your boat. Someday we will have a motor too…
- Bob, Tom, and Ryan Forward are 3 kayakers we’ve been “bumping into” along the Rideau since we started at Kingston. We camped next to each other in Merrickville and ended up having a beer and hanging out. They were great with Jude and holding Rane too. We didn’t get to say goodbye, but we hope they had a good paddle into Ottawa. We enjoyed their sense of humour!
- Geoff had a great visit with a group of ladies who have been canoeing together for years. It was very inspirational!
- We had seen the Trawler called “Outport” a couple of times along the Rideau. In Merrickville, we actually got to meet the owners. It was great talking with David Smith and Jacque Altman. They have a great sense of humour and kind hearts. Jacque ran to the drug store to get teething relief for Rane. David took some pictures of us in the canoe and promised to send them.
- Jacque returned from the drug store with Richinda Bates. Richinda runs Coba, a Studio and Print Shop in Merrickville that prints the local paper. She recorded an interview. We had a good laugh about the challenges of children…and how it’s totally worth it!
- Geoff was out walking Rane around while Jude and I finished breakfast when he struck up a conversation with Doug Struthers, Merrickville’s gregarious Mayor. He gave Geoff a handshake and a Merrickville cloth bag. Doing a great job – Merrickville is one of the most beautiful towns we’ve paddled through.
- A decision to briefly stop at a random dock lead to us meeting Donna Naughton, author of the book “Natural History of Canadian Mammals”. She signed a copy for us on the dock. We ended up staying in their cottage and having a wonderful visit with her and Diana Boudreault. Jude had a great time exploring the property with them. We really appreciated the help with our gear (Sheila Edwards did a lot) and Diana did some very helpful baby-holding in the morning while we were loading up.
- Tom Tulouse didn’t have much time to chat with us because he needed to keep his boat in the channel, however, he said he’d been following our progress. He invited us to stay at his house and to make ourselves at home. We already had plans for that evening – but it was really nice to be invited. Thank you!
- We met Dan Leduc and Paula Barnabe along with their kids, Maddox, Savannah, and Xavier in a lock. We were thrilled when they called out from their boat that we’d be at their place in about 3 hours…”do we eat meat?” That got us motivated to paddle faster! The kids had a great time playing, and the adults had a great time eating and chatting. We had been having a rough few days in the tent – Dan and Paula made us feel right at home.
- Janice and Paul Higgins et al waved us in from their dock near Manotick, ON. We are glad they did because it ended up pouring rain. Janice mentioned a train set to Jude – he instantly said “yes, please!”, put his arms up for her to lift him out, and disappeared into the house. Apparently she asked him if he wanted to play inside or outside…he chose inside!
- How often to you “bump into” people you met in a totally different time and place? For us…twice! We first met Pierre Roy 2 years ago in Killarney, ON. We pulled up to a lock and he called out to us that he’d seen someone with the same rig as us 2 years ago. He said it wasn’t us because we had a dog and one child. He took another long look and a look of astonishment swept through us all. We had a nice chat catching up. Pierre and his wife, Guylaine Berube) helped us portage some of our gear. We look forward to seeing you in Quebec City!
- We met Sharon and John Mather at Long Island Locks. We really appreciated all of Sharon’s baby holding and enthusiasm. John told me some stories about Sharon’s wilderness adventures…I wish there would have been time to hear more. We always seem to be racing the deadline of one lock, or another.
- Americo and Cindy Giamberardino made us feel as though we are part of their family from the moment they picked our gear up from Long Island Locks. In fact, Jude felt so comfortable with them that he opted to ride with them to their house instead of paddling the last 8 km or so with us. They did everything possible to make us feel right at home: finding a place to store our canoe (thank you Fern and family), crib for Rane, beds for each of us, toys for Jude, delicious meals, cold beer, homemade wine, rides to and from the train, borrowed car seats, stroller for kids while exploring town, and lots of baby holding. I’m sure we are forgetting something, but I think you get the picture. Wonderful people who feel like family already. Can’t thank them enough for helping us through some tough days with Rane and with our crazy trip logistics.