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.

All of the locks are operated by hand.

All of the locks are operated by hand.

Jones Falls Inverted Keystone Arch Dam - incredible!

Jones Falls Inverted Keystone Arch Dam – incredible!

Jude loves cigarette boats (he was thrilled to share a lock with the one pictured here.)

Jude loves cigarette boats (he was thrilled to share a lock with the one pictured here.)

Camp-life
Rane has cut 5 teeth during the month of July – he now has 7 teeth!  Our kids seem to love growing teeth in July, as I recall Jude doing the same thing.  It has made for more waking in the night (yawn).

We really enjoyed camping at the locks because there are beautiful, flat, grassy areas, picnic tables, and bathrooms.

We really enjoyed camping at the locks because there are beautiful, flat, grassy areas, picnic tables, and bathrooms.

The kids love to fool around in the tent.  Usually we spend some time hanging out in the tent before getting up for the day.

The kids love to fool around in the tent. Usually we spend some time hanging out in the tent before getting up for the day.

Rane loves to take a hand and cruise around camp.

Rane loves to take a hand and cruise around camp.

Scenes that caught our eye

The Rideau has a very varied landscape: pastures, swamp, Canadian Shield, cottages, and picturesque towns like Merrickville.

Short break at the Narrows

Short break at the Narrows

We never get tired of seeing the Canadian Shield

We never get tired of seeing the Canadian Shield

The locks were all very scenic and well kept.

The locks were all very scenic and well kept.

What could be better for hot, tired paddlers than a boat selling ice cream in the middle of the lake!

What could be better for hot, tired paddlers than a boat selling ice cream in the middle of the lake!

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.

Rane, Geoff, and Jude enjoying the "cooler" weather.  (It was only about 26C that day.)

Rane, Geoff, and Jude enjoying the “cooler” weather. (It was only about 26C that day.)

In general, I only get to paddle when Rane is sleeping.  Sometimes it ends up that Rane is napping while we are in the lock (instead of waiting until we are on the move.)

In general, I only get to paddle when Rane is sleeping. Sometimes it ends up that Rane is napping while we are in the lock (instead of waiting until we are on the move.)

Wildlife caught on camera

Geoff called him Grandfather Frog

Geoff called him Grandfather Frog

Saw this Black Rat Snake hanging out at Jones Falls Locks

Saw this Black Rat Snake hanging out at Jones Falls Locks

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.

Cheers!

Cheers!

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!

Thank You!

  • 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.
Paul Sheridan, Geoff (holding Jude), Jeremy Harkness, Maureen Sheridan (holding Sophia), Nichola Harkness (holding Rane), and Jarrod Harkness

Paul Sheridan, Geoff (holding Jude), Jeremy Harkness, Maureen Sheridan (holding Sophia), Nichola Harkness (holding Rane), and Jarrod Harkness

 

  •  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.Dinner with Sheridans and Harknesses
  • 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. Philip Hart at Kingston Yacht Club
  • 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!Bill Stringer and Callum Walter
  • Nice chat with Barbara Cotterill at Chaffey’s Locks.  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.Lawren Steventon and Laurie Ross at Newboro Lock
  • Bill and Karen Hurdling bought Jude a Rideau Canal pennant at the Newboro lock.  A great souvenir!Bill Hurdling at Newboro Lock
  • 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 Mock and Robert Neeson
  • 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!Bob Forward holding RaneRyan Forward playing catch with JudeTom Forward with Rane
  • Geoff had a great visit with a group of ladies who have been canoeing together for years.  It was very inspirational!Canoe ladies
  • 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.

    David Smith, Jacque Altman, and Richinda Bates waving from the Merrickville dock.

    David Smith, Jacque Altman, and Richinda Bates waving from the Merrickville dock.

  • 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.Doug Struthers, Merrickville Mayor
  • 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.

Donna Naughton and Diane Boudreault

  • 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.Maddox, Savannah, Xavier, and JudeDan Leduc and Paula Barnabe
  • 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!Higgins Family in Manotick
  • 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!

    Pierre Roy and Guylaine Berube (right side with Geoff) helped to load Americo and Cindy's (on right) car with our gear.

    Pierre Roy and Guylaine Berube (right side with Geoff) helped to load Americo and Cindy’s (on right) car with our gear.

  • 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.Sharon and John Mather
  • 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.Americo and Cindy GiamberardinoAmerico and Cindy Giamberardino
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5 Responses to Paddling the Rideau Canal from Lake Ontario to Ottawa

  1. Colin Haskin says:

    See you in Quebec City on Aug 31! BUT HOW DO WE FIND YOU? Where’s the big celebration (see below)?
    Colin and Deborah Haskin, Glen Ross (Danger Narrows), Lock #7, Trent-Severn
    PS We will be bringing with us a friend from Australia who has heard of your achievement.

    (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.)

  2. myki mac mykayla says:

    hi it is myki I looked at it and it is so cool I love the pics of the trip and rane so cute

    • The MacDonalds says:

      Hi Myki,

      Thank you for your post. We are looking forward to spending time with you and Tanner this winter. Maybe we can go on a canoe trip together next year?

  3. Bob Forward says:

    Saw the CBC news glad you made it all the way.
    We had a great time on the Canal this summer, a little richer for spending time with you guys.
    Have a good winter.
    Bob

  4. Jeannine Espie says:

    I loved seeing your story on the CBC news, wonderful family memories you are making for your children. I live in beautiful Haliburton where you completed the 100 k @ Haliburton Forest, kudos to you! I am curious what your trip plans are for next year and when you will get started/ My husband and I traveled to NFL this summer and what a beautiful province it is. Have a wonderful rest when you get to shore you deserve it. Sincerly Jeannine Espie

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