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The Chambly Canal National Historic Site offers a fascinating trip along the Richelieu River

Chambly Canal National Historic Site

Itineraries and Experiences

The Chambly Canal National Historic Site offers a fascinating trip along the Richelieu River. The Canal’s 9 locks, eight of which are still operated manually, as well as swing, rolling and lift bridges set the pace for the excursion. It takes about 3 hours to cover the 20 km of waterway and the Parks Canada lock keepers will help smooth your passage through its high-quality, secure facilities.

To make the trip even more enjoyable, captivating programs enliven the shores!

For the Love of Boating...

The Chambly basin, a majestic French fort and staircase locks of the Chambly Canal
A fascinating trip along the Richelieu River
© Parks Canada
In the Old Chambly

From the Chambly Basin, at the foot of the majestic fort that rises above the river, the step locks unique to Quebec introduce you to a surprisingly rich history. Day and night docking is available at the Parks Canada wharf, downstream from the locks.

For a romantic evening, have a seat at one of the restaurants and bistros that line Avenue Bourgogne: they offer delicious cuisine that marries local specialities with up-and-coming trends. From your comfortable place on a terrace, you can immerse yourself in the magnificent view of Mont Saint-Hilaire over the Chambly Basin.

Keep an eye out for the Sur l’air de Chambly program: outdoor events featuring current artists are held at Parc des Ateliers next to the locks.

On the Banks of the Richelieu

Each stage in the trip along the canal unveils another era: hand-operated locks, lift and retractable bridges all mark the voyage.

The splendour of nature unfolds as you sail past the roar of the rapids, Fryer Island, Sainte-Marie, Sainte-Thérèse and the verdant banks of the river. Let yourself be seduced and take a break at one of the many Parks Canada wharves.

Walk along the canal path, picnic by the waterside, or explore the area’s heritage with the help of one of the interpretation stations. And keep your binoculars handy, because a rare bird may just come into view!

Historic Old Saint-Jean at the southern tip of the Chambly Canal
Historic Old Saint-Jean at the southern tip of the Chambly Canal
© Parks Canada
Old Saint-Jean

At the southern tip of the Chambly Canal, you enter the Richelieu River at historic Old Saint-Jean, an area now being revitalized. Inexpensive docking is available both up and and downstream from Lock No. 9 at the Parks Canada wharves.

Stroll along the streets of Old Saint-Jean, with its boutiques, friendly restaurants and stages showcasing your favourite performers.

During the summer, don’t miss the outdoor events at Place publique, the public market, and enjoy the magic of the International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, which you can take in from the water at Lock No. 9.

Small Loop to this Summer’s Greatest Events!

Don’t miss a beat this summer! Head to the small loop that winds its way through Parks Canada’s network of waterways to be in the front row for this summer’s must-attend events.

Montréal’s Festival Season
Montréal’s Festival Season
June marks the beginning of Montréal’s festival season
© Parks Canada

June marks the beginning of Montréal’s festival season. The Lachine Canal is where it’s at for the Canadian Grand Prix, the Francofolies, or Montréal’s International Jazz Festival.

The metropolis comes to life day and night, and docking is available at the many Parks Canada wharfs located along the waterway. Enjoy a walk or a bike ride along the canal’s 14.5-km of path between two shows and take in the natural landscape and breathtaking view of downtown Montréal.

Keep an eye out for food trucks to enjoy a typical Montréal culinary experience.

Vintage and Romantic Stops
Arrêts rétro et romance
A boardwalk and numerous restaurants and bistros at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue
© Parks Canada

After crossing Lake Saint-Louis, head towards Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue for a romantic evening.

With its beautiful boardwalk and numerous restaurants and bistros, it’s no surprise that this lock is the busiest in Canada!

Mooring services are available on site, both upstream and downstream. Also in June, don’t miss out on Cruisin’ at the Boardwalk, with an atmosphere reminiscent of the 1950s and 1960s and roughly 500 classic cars on display.

Once your hunger is satisfied, cross Lake des Deux-Montagnes towards the Ottawa River. Known as one of the most beautiful rivers in North America, it features amazing and varied landscapes and numerous inviting stops along the way.

The road winds up to the Carillon Canal, where a picnic in the park while watching Canada’s highest lock and its vertical lift gate, which weighs nearly 200 tons, is a must.

Party in the Nation’s Capital!
Party in the Nation’s Capital!
At the beginning of July, it’s Ottawa’s turn to sway to the rhythm of major events
© Parks Canada

At the beginning of July, it’s Ottawa’s turn to sway to the rhythm of major events. For the ultimate experience in the nation’s capital, celebrate Canada Day on Parliament Hill. A few days later, the Bluesfest will host performances by great blues singers during one of the country’s largest music festivals.

The adventure continues at the Rideau Canal, a treasured jewel of UNESCO’s World Heritage list surrounded by pastoral landscapes and small historic towns. After arriving in Kingston, you’ll reach Lake Ontario, at the crossroads of the St. Lawrence Seaway. From there, the wild landscape spreads across the Thousand Islands National Park, which supports a rich biodiversity, and you can maneuver through a series of rock islands until you reach Brockville.

Gently navigate down the St. Lawrence River and its ever-changing river banks to return to Montréal, where the International des Feux Loto-Québec is in full swing. Once you’re in the Lachine Canal, settle in to a nice spot somewhere in the Old Port to admire the fantastic lights show.

Where Magic Happens
La magie prend son envol
The enchanting hot air balloons from a viewpoint on the water
© Parks Canada

In August, round out your day trip by heading for the Richelieu River to attend the International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and watch the enchanting hot air balloons from a different viewpoint on the water. The rich program will have something for everyone.

While crossing the Saint-Ours Canal, stop at Darvard Island to take in the uniqueness of its lush flora and its characteristic hills. Before you reach Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, let yourself be charmed by the Chambly Canal’s natural setting, where you can see part of our heritage come to life before your very eyes with authentic replicas from the past, such as its manually-operated locks and bridges.

Enjoy your trip!

Nautical Itineraries

Here are a few nautical itineraries and their approximate distances between towns along the way. These circuits will take you through most of the Northeastern inland waterways including the Chambly, Saint-Ours, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Lachine (retrictions may apply), Carillon and Rideau canals.

Estimated Nautical Distances

Montréal to Sorel = 70 km
Sorel to Chambly = 70 km
Chambly to Lake Champlain = 55 km
Chambly to New York = 520 km
Montréal to Québec = 250 km
Montréal to Ottawa = 180 km
Montréal to Kingston = 275 km
Montréal to Toronto = 500 km

Estimated Nautical Circuits

Montréal, Ottawa, Rideau Canal, Kingston, St. Lawrence River, Montréal = 655 km

Montréal, Chambly, Lake Champlain, Champlain Canal, Erie Canal, Oswego Canal, St. Lawrence River, Montréal = 1000 km

Montréal, Chicago, Mississippi, Miami, New York, Chambly, Montréal = 7 500 km

Duration

  • Montréal to New York - 5 days
  • Montréal to the Rideau Canal,
    returning via the St. Lawrence Seaway - 7 days
  • Grand Circuit Nautique, omitting the Rideau Canal
    (returning by the St. Lawrence Seaway) - 2 weeks
  • Grand Circuit Nautique, including the Rideau Canal - 3 weeks