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Rideau Canal National Historic Site of Canada

The History of the Rideau Canal


Specifications of the Lockstation:

Two locks, each with a lift of 11 feet (3.4 m).

The Construction of the Lockstation:

Staff at Hartwell's Locks Staff at Hartwell's Locks
©Parks Canada / Steve Weir / Rideau Canal

Hartwells Lockstation is in the midst of a popular recreational area between the Central Experimental Farm and Carleton University. The Rideau River is to the east of the lockstation on the other side of the university. The construction of Colonel By Drive and the university around World War II forced the station to retreat to the west bank of the canal. Some of the buildings on the east side of the lock were demolished and while others were moved to a new location across the canal.

In its early years, Hartwells served as a maintenance depot. A gully on the west bank was converted into a basin, providing a space for tugs and scows to be repaired out of the way of the canal traffic.

Canal Structures:

Lockmaster's House: The defensible lockmaster's house, built in the 1840s, has been altered greatly from its original design. Originally a one-storey structure of rough stone, over the years it has gained a second storey. The entire structure has been covered in clapboard, disguising its original form.

Engineering Structures: Colonel By had planned to make a canal cut through what is now Hartwells Lockstation. However, faced with extensive excavation at Hartwells, By reconsidered his plan and opted to construct locks at the site. Walter Fenlon, a civil engineer from the United States, was responsible for starting the excavation. He soon ran into financial trouble and was forced to withdraw. The contract for the locks and weir were granted to Thomas MacKay. Rock for the masonry work was quarried near the river at Hogs Back. These engineering structures went unaltered until the early part of the 20th century, when repairs to the stone work were necessary.

At Hartwells, excess water is emptied thorugh a sluice and culvert system. This system replaces the original waste weir that released water into a stream that flowed to the Rideau River.