Bytown, as modern Ottawa was known at the time, was built as a service city for this canal that was built in 1832 to provide water traffic from the Ottawa river to the great lakes. Today the canal is a World Heritage site and is lined with parks and walking/bike paths.
Rideau Canal connects Ottawa with Kingston, 200 kms away, and is the oldest lock system in North America, which was opened in 1832 and the lock system is still open between from mid-May to mid November.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal starts (or ends) at the Ottawa River, between the East Block of the Parliament Buildings and the Chateau Laurier Hotel. It's a pleasant stroll in the summer or an envigorating skate in the winter, or just another place to enjoy the fall folliage.
The first set of locks are the Ottawa Locks, then Hartwell's Locks and Hog's Back Locks, which are the last set of locks in the City of Ottawa proper.
One of the most scenic things you will do in Ottawa is enjoy the Rideau Canal and get some different views of the city and it is beautiful from the canal.
I don't remember the name of the company I specifically used but there are a lot of different opportunities.
I was approached in the canal area by people selling tickets and I am sure at your hotel it can be arranged but I highly recommend you do this while you are in Ottawa.
Please visit my travelogue as well :-).
The the War of 1812 was the main reason to construct a navigable waterway between Lake Ontario and the Ottawa River. A secure supply route from Montréal to Kingston was needed, to avoid travel via the vulnerable St. Lawrence River.
The Rideau route was only known to natives who used portions of it to travel from Lake Ontario to the Ottawa River. The last part was unnavigable due to the rapids and the twin falls at the Ottawa River.
In 1826 Lieutenant Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers became supervisor of the canal construction. The first construction works were those to clear the area for the Ottawa locks in the fall of 1826. Major construction on the rest of the route started in 1827. Royal Engineers supervised the work of 2000 men on average (60% Irish and 40% French Canadian). Lobour was hard as provisions had to come from as far away as Montreal. Also malaria was one of the diseases the workers were faced with.
in November 1831 the first construction was completed with 47 masonry locks and 52 dams creating a 202 km (125 mile) waterway. On May 24, 1832, Colonel By, his family and some fellow officers boarded the vessel Pumper, temporarily renamed Rideau, in Kingston for the grand opening voyage.
The canal through Ottawa has seen many other changes over the years. The railway yards along the side of the canal have been removed, scenic drives and bicycle paths have been established, and thousands of tulips, given to Canada by the Netherlands, have been planted in gardens around Dows Lake and beside the canal. .
I took a boat tour with Paul's boat lines. The tour guide combined the history of Ottawa, the canal and some of the sights with hilarious, Seinfeld-like jokes. If you take this tour, you won't be disappointed. The tour takes about 1,5 hours and goes in the direction Ottawa-Kingston and back.
The Rideau Canal that traverses Ottawa on its way to Kingston is both a World Heritage Site and a Canadian National Historic Site. It's also exceptional in being a functional canal - still operated in much the same (manual) way as when it opened 175 years ago. During the summer months, the canal is used by recreational boaters who explore and celebrate Canadian's past while definitely being part of its present.
When I was in Ottawa, I thought it was very interesting to visit the section of the canal adjacent to the Carleton University, to tour a few of the original buildings, and to observe the lock being opened and closed using the same methods as those of the early 19th century.
The history of this canal construction is exceptional and its outcome totally different to the purpose of construction.
Designed for military purposes and opened in 1832 this 202 kilometre canal route linking the Ottawa River and Lake Ontario through a system of lakes and rivers, connected and made navigable by the channels, locks and dams that the workers constructed.
The canal construction brought thousands of people to the district and Ottawa. It is now a National Historic Site.
So here is what you need to know.
The magnificent flight of eight locks, once a dominant landmark in Ottawa are now dwarfed by the Parliament Buildings (Canada's seat of government) and the Chateau Laurier Hotel. The Bytown Museum is housed in the oldest building in Ottawa, the former Commissariat building for the Rideau Canal, built in 1827. The Museum is located next to the water between the hotel and Parliament. Make sure you enjoy this historic location. People gather to watch the boats as they go threw the locks. I am by no means a boat enthuses, but id was worth watching.
If you go to the website I listed you will receive more information than you can shake a stick at..
Number of locks: 8
Total Lift: 24.1m ( 79 ft.)
Lock Through Time: 1.5 hours
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Continuing past the Chateau Laurier hotel brought us to the bridge over the Rideau Canal, which gave us this great view down over its first seven locks leading up from the Ottawa River (the structures on the right are part of the hotel promenade decks). The origins of both Ottawa and the Canal arose from British concerns over the American attitude that the Canadian colonies would be the next to fall following their successful Revolutionary War (1776-1783). Sure enough, the capital city of York (present-day Toronto) was burned by attacking American forces during the War of 1812-14 but combined British, Canadian and native Indian forces were able to repel the invaders. This led to the removal of the capital to Ottawa, further away from the border, and to the planning of a military supply route also at more distance than the exposed St. Lawrence River system.
It took a while to get political support lined-up and the survey work completed, with canal construction beginning in 1827. The route chosen included the Rideau River as part of a 200-km (125-mile) waterway of linked rivers, lakes and canals between Ottawa and Kingston, where the Great Lakes empty into the St. Lawrence River. By 1832, the canal was officially opened upon completion of the 47 locks needed to join these various bits of water.
We walked down to the canal itself for a closer look at the actual operation of the locks as three pleasure boats were waiting for the next 'lift' in this series of short locks rising up from the Ottawa River (2nd pic). It was interesting to watch the canal workers using the old hand-cranks to open the lock gates once the water had reached the correct level, letting the first boat through to the next stage (3rd pic). As each boat entered the new lock, they used on-board grappling hooks to attach themselves to thick steel mooring cables as they waited for the other boats to enter (4th pic - note the smart dog at the controls!). The canal is now operated by Parks Canada and is a National Historic site.
The Rideau Canal starts at the Ottawa Locks just next to Parliament Hill and stretches for about 200km. During winter when it freezes, this canal becomes the longest and largest skating rink in the world for both locals and tourists. You can rent the skating equipment at one of the shops located along the canal during wintertime.
The Canal is almost as busy in the summer as it is in the winter! Except in the summer it is filled with motorboats, kayaks and boats instead of skaters. Various tour companies offer great boat tours that take you down the canal. Make sure to jump on one if you have any time:)
Or just walk down, bring a picnic and enjoy the summer day. Check out the site below for information about some canal tours.