Rideau Canal National Historic Site of Canada

How to Get There

The Rideau Canal is a waterway stretching 202 km (126 miles) in length between the cities of Ottawa and Kingston in eastern Ontario, Canada. It can be reached by boat, vehicle, bicycle or on foot.

Map of the Rideau Canal

By Boat (Vessel)

The Rideau Canal is accessible from its northern entrance via the Ottawa River in the Ottawa/Hull area. The Ottawa Locks is the entrance lockstation here and consists of a flight of eight locks nestled between the historic Parliament Buildings and Chateau Laurier Hotel.

Most boaters coming from the east travel along the Ottawa River, having originated from Quebec or the state of New York. This trip requires locking through one or more of Parks Canada's historic canals along the Ottawa River in Quebec (e.g. Carillon Lock), and continuing travel in an upriver (westerly) direction before arriving at the Ottawa Locks to enter the Rideau system.

Direct access for boaters from the west along the Ottawa River (and further upstream from the Temiskaming Waterway) to the Rideau Canal is not possible, as the river is blocked by the Deschenes Rapids and E.B. Eddy Dam. Therefore, such boaters must trailer their vessel to a launch site along the Rideau Canal (e.g. at Dows Lake Pavillion or Hog's Back Marina) or along the Ottawa River east of Ottawa (e.g. at Rockliffe Boathouse or Hull Marina) to gain access directly into the Rideau Canal.

The southern entrance to the Rideau Canal is accessible to boaters directly from Lake Ontario (to the west) and the St. Lawrence Seaway (to the east). Boaters coming from the Trent Severn Waterway, for instance, would depart that system at Trenton or the Murray Canal and travel along the northeast shore of Lake Ontario en route to Kingston Harbour. From there, travel in a northerly direction up the Rideau Canal before reaching Kingston Mills, which is the southern entrance lockstation on the Rideau Canal system.

Rideau Canal Rideau Canal ©Parks Canada

By Vehicle

The Rideau Canal's 24 lockstations are all accessible by road, and therefore by vehicle, bicycle or on foot. The canal lockstations are generally accessible by all-season roads.

The major highway artery providing access from the east or west to the southern end of the canal is Highway 401 (MacDonald Cartier Freeway). Kingston exit #623 on the 401 provides the most direct access to provincial highway #15, which is the main route which parallels the southern portion of the canal between Kingston and Smiths Falls. Highway #15 in turn provides connections to other routes that service most of the Rideau corridor between Kingston and Ottawa. These include Highways #43 and #16 and other local roads that run adjacent to the canal, in a northerly direction, between Smiths Falls and Ottawa.

Highway #7 provides access to the Rideau from the west to the historic town of Perth and Tay Canal (an offshoot of the main Rideau Canal). Perth is connected to the town of Smiths Falls (to the east) by #43. Highway #43 also provides access to the Rideau from the east via Kemptville and the historic village of Merrickville, to the town of Smiths Falls and then Perth.

More specifically, Kingston Mills, Lower Brewers, Upper Brewers, Jones Falls, Davis, Chaffeys, Newboro, Narrows, Beveridges, Poonamalie, and Smiths Falls Combined and Detached lockstations are all serviced by roads connected to Highway #15.

Smiths Falls Combined and Old Slys lockstations are serviced directly or indirectly from Highway #29.

Edmonds lockstation is on county road #17, while Beveridges, Kilmarnock, Merrickville, Nicholsons, and Burritts Rapids lockstations are accessible off Highway #43.

Clowes, Nicholsons and also Burritts Rapids lockstations are accessible from county road #2.

Long Island Lockstation is accessible from county road #19 (also called the River Road, located on the west side of the canal just off Highway #16).

Ottawa Locks adjoins Wellington Street in downtown Ottawa, directly downstream of the National Arts Centre.

Hartwells and Hog's Back lockstations are also situated on major bicycle path routes in Ottawa.

Colonel By Island is located in Big Rideau Lake and is only accessible by boat. Many boaters launch their vessels from the Village of Portland and boat to the island from there.

The Rideau Canal Headquarters Office is situated beside the Rideau Canal in Smiths Falls in the same building as the Rideau Canal Museum. It is located at the bottom of Beckwith Street (south), which is part of Highway #29 and the towns' main street.

The major highway arteries providing general access to the northern region of the canal are Highways #417 (from east and west), #17 (from the east), and #16 (from the south). However, we recommend you consult a more detailed city map to see how to reach Ottawa Locks, Hartwells or Hog's Back, which are the main lockstations found in the city of Ottawa. Contact the Rideau Canal at 1-888-773-8888 for more information or consult a province of Ontario road map for detail on roads and highways.

By Rail

Via Rail has regular train service to Ottawa, Fallowfield, Smiths Falls, Brockville, Gananoque & Kingston stations. Learn more about Via Rail service.