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Rideau Canal National Historic Site

What's New

Draft Reduction on Rideau Canal Due to Drought Conditions

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, JULY 22, 2016 – Effective immediately, the available draft in the southern section (from Newboro Lockstation to Lake Ontario) of the Rideau Canal is reduced from the standard five (5) feet.

This reduction is necessary to ensure safe navigation and is the result of low water levels due to a lack of precipitation and evaporation caused by unseasonably high temperatures.

Boaters travelling within this section of the Rideau Canal whose vessels draw greater than four (4) feet should consult the Parks Canada website or contact Rideau Canal Staff at for timely information on water levels and available draft.

Navigation in the northern section (Ottawa River to Newboro Lockstation including the Tay Canal) of the Rideau Canal is not impacted and boat traffic can continue to move freely throughout this area.

Parks Canada staff are working with our partners to manage water flows on a system-wide basis to mitigate the impact of low water levels and to best meet the broad range of needs including recreation, municipal water supply, and fisheries management.

Updates on water level conditions and their impact on draft will continue to be communicated through the Rideau Canal website and social media, and when required, through a Canadian Coast Guard Notice to Shipping.

Government of Canada welcomes new eco-friendly electric boat service on the Rideau Canal National Historic Site

Ottawa, Ontario, Parks Canada Agency, June 9, 2016 - For the 2016 season, Ottawa Boat Cruises will be offering a new, eco-friendly and unique cruising experience on the downtown Ottawa portion of the Rideau Canal National Historic Site. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Minister responsible for Parks Canada and Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, Catherine McKenna, officially launched the tour boat today.

Two new state-of-the-art, purpose-built, electric boats will host visitors and locals alike for day-time tours and other special events.

The locally built boats are the largest certified fully-electric passenger boats in Canada. The first boat, The Queen Elizabeth dr., will commence operations in time for Canada Day. The second boat, The Colonel By, will be launched in time for the 2017 season.

This new service is the successful result of Parks Canada’s 2015 Request for Proposal for the downtown Ottawa portion of the Rideau Canal. This is one way that Parks Canada is working with partners and communities to help the Rideau Canal be a premier tourism destination, foster recreation and support economic development along its whole length, from Ottawa to Kingston.

As we near the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, the Government invites all Canadians to experience Canada’s remarkable natural heritage and rich history at national parks and national historic sites this summer.

Government of Canada Announces Free Lockage in 2017

Celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary with free lockage along Parks Canada’s historic canals

Ottawa, Ontario, Parks Canada Agency, May 20, 2016 - As part of Budget 2016, the Government of Canada announced free admission in 2017 for all visitors to national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada. Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna announced that lockage will also be free for boaters in 2017.

Just as entry fees give visitors access to the wonders of national parks and historic sites, lockage fees give boaters access to Parks Canada’s historic and beautiful waterways.

Government of Canada invests $57 million in Rideau Canal National Historic Site

Ottawa, Ontario, May 10, 2016 - Canada’s national parks and historic sites belong to all Canadians. These beautiful natural environments bring Canadians together, attract thousands of tourists to our country, and support our local economies.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Minister responsible for Parks Canada and Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, announced the installation of two paddle access points along the Rideau Canal National Historic Site.

These new paddle access points will ensure safe and easy access to the Rideau Canal for paddlers and their canoes, kayaks and paddle-boards, allowing even more community members and visitors to enjoy the history and beauty of this national treasure. The access points are located at Clegg Avenue and Patterson Creek in Ottawa.

These paddle access points respond to feedback from the local community and are an example of Parks Canada’s commitment to continually improving experiences for visitors to natural and cultural heritage sites. 

Minister McKenna also announced a historic federal infrastructure investment of over $57 million in the Rideau Canal National Historic Site

Also, today’s announcement of over $57 million in additional funding for infrastructure work is the largest investment of its kind in the 184-year history of the Rideau Canal. The funding will be used to rehabilitate and repair bridges, dams, locks and historic masonry structures in communities along the Canal, more than doubling previously announced federal funding. This will improve the quality and reliability of visitor facilities and continue to allow Canadians to experience and enjoy this cherished UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Parks Canada continues to work with partners and communities to help the Rideau Canal be a premier tourism destination, foster recreation and support economic development along its whole length, from Ottawa to Kingston.

Spring Maintenance for Rideau Canal Bridges

SMITHS FALLS, ONTARIO, April 12, 2016 – In the coming weeks, Parks Canada will be conducting spring maintenance at some of our swing bridges and sites along the Rideau Canal, in preparation for the 2016 navigation season. This includes preventative maintenance tasks like washing and greasing swing bridges and conducting visual inspections to ensure their safe operability.

Temporary Bridge Closures

Parks Canada would like to advise residents and visitors of the following temporary bridge closures for regular spring maintenance, weather permitting:

April 19 - 20: Old Sly’s Swing Bridge (Smiths Falls) 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
April 26 - 27: Abbot Street Bridge (Smiths Falls) 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
May 5 - 6: Kingston Mills Swing Bridge 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Traffic Delays

Seasonal maintenance on certain bridges that cross the Rideau Canal will not result in closures, but vehicles may experience short delays of about 10 minutes:

April 21-22: Kilmarnock Swing Bridge 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
April 28: Merrickville Swing Bridge 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
May 3-4: Upper Nicholson’s Swing Bridge 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
May 12-13: Burritts Rapids Swing Bridge 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
May 18: Perth Bridge 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Motorists are asked to plan their routes accordingly in order to avoid delays. To accommodate school bus traffic, efforts will be made to keep bridge delays between 9:00 am and 2:30 pm. Parks Canada wishes to thank the public for their patience during the maintenance period.

For more information about the Rideau Canal, visit, or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

End of Season Operations on the Rideau Canal

Important safety information

October 13, 2015 - Smiths Falls, Ontario - Parks Canada

Parks Canada is advising the public that the Rideau Canal’s 24 lockstations located between Ottawa and Kingston closed for the season on October 12, 2015, following the Thanksgiving long weekend.

Parks Canada encourages the public to use caution in and around canal structures and channels over the winter months. From mid-October to the end of May, the canal’s lock stations are closed and use of the canal is at one’s own risk. Unmarked hazards may exist. Wet leaves, ice, and snow may remain on stairs and walkways, and ice conditions on the waterway can vary. Boaters are advised that during the non-navigation season, aids to navigation may be missing, off-station, or inoperable until next spring.

From mid-October until mid-November, water levels in the Rideau Canal system, between Ottawa Locks and Burritt’s Rapids, will be decreased to winter storage levels by adjusting dams and spillways in the Lower Rideau Watershed in order to prepare for freeze up and to reduce the possibility of spring flooding. The following Rideau Canal sections will be affected:

  • Water levels will be decreased in the sections below Hog's Back, including Dow's Lake, beginning Tuesday, October 13 and will remain at their lowest level until Monday, November 16, after which the water level will then be raised approximately one metre between Hartwells and Ottawa lockstations to prepare for the Skateway. 
  • Water levels will be lowered between Hog's Back to Black Rapids beginning Monday, October 19, 2015. 
  • Water levels will be lowered between Long Island to Black Rapids beginning Monday, October 26, 2015. 
  • Water levels will be lowered between Burritt's Rapids to Long Island beginning Monday, November 2, 2015.

We would like to thank all visitors and look forward to welcoming you again in 2016. Lockage and mooring permits for 2016 will soon be available for purchase on the Parks Canada website.

Ensuring the Durability of Historic Canadian Infrastructure

AECOM obtains contract for the rehabilitation of the Poonamalie Earth Dam in Ontario

May 5, 2014 – Smiths Falls, ON - Parks Canada Agency

AECOM's energy group in Montreal has been awarded a new contract with Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) and Parks Canada to rehabilitate the Poonamalie Earth Dam near Smiths Falls, Ontario.

The Poonamalie Earth Dam and lock station were built in 1832 and form part of the Rideau Canal National Historic Site and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Parks Canada continues to make significant investments on Canada's historic canals for essential water management infrastructure improvements. This $4.3 million project will rehabilitate the dam as part of Parks Canada's capital investment on Ontario's historic canals to support communities and bordering businesses. It will improve stability, enhance a service vehicle lane, and improve public safety with a new deck railing system. Reconstructed canal cut walls will reuse stone salvaged from the existing wall. AECOM will manage the construction and contract administration services for this project and have a resident engineer on-site to inspect, coordinate and monitor all aspects of the work during the construction.

Parks Canada plans to invest $3.2 million over the next two years on the Rideau Canal for preventative maintenance projects and visitor facilities. This is in addition to the $391.5 million of planned funding in the 2014 Economic Action Plan for highways, bridges and dams in national parks and along historic canals. Details on this funding will come later.

Quick Facts

  • The Parks Canada Agency is responsible for the administration of the Trent-Severn Waterway and Rideau Canal national historic sites of Canada. It supports the sustainability of historic canals and quality tourism opportunities with responsible fiscal management and wise investment of taxpayer dollars.
  • The Poonamalie Dam, in the Rideau Lakes Township near Smiths Falls, has been continuously maintained and monitored since the 19th century. Parks Canada identified the dam for rehabilitation as part of its ongoing asset monitoring and recapitalization program on the Rideau Canal.
  • The work will be completed by April 2017 and will not affect vessel traffic during the Rideau Canal's navigation season.
  • The reconstruction of the canal cut walls at Minnow Creek Waste Weir will reuse stone facing salvaged from the existing wall to correspond with the current aesthetic look.
  • The Poonamalie Earth Dam retains water from the Big Rideau and Lower Rideau Lakes and contributes to Parks Canada management of the water heading north from Poonamalie Lockstation to Ottawa Locks. 

Additional links:

Visitor Experience Opportunities Report for the Rideau Corridor Released

Tourism vision for Rideau represents a coordinated approach for future economic sustainability

Smith Falls, Ontario, January 31, 2014 - On Friday January 31, 2014, at the Rideau Canal Headquarters in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Parks Canada hosted community leaders and Rideau Canal stakeholders at the unveiling of the Rideau Canal Visitor Experience Opportunities Concept (VEOC).

The Rideau Canal VEOC represents a consolidation of potential tourism experience opportunities and innovations for the Rideau Corridor collected through discussions sessions held with Rideau Canal stakeholders throughout the fall of 2013. This collaborative initiative aims to inspire movement towards an improved model for revenue generation and economic sustainability in the Rideau Corridor. Learn more...

Visual Preference Survey Captures Values of the Rideau Corridor

Smiths Falls, Ontario, September 7, 2012 – Building on the successful first round of public consultation sessions in March and field work this summer, a final round of public consultation sessions was held the week of August 13, 2012. Parks Canada extends a very big thank you to all who attended the workshops, held in five communities along the Rideau Corridor, and to those who completed the online version of the visual preference survey. The visual preference survey highlighted that the Rideau Corridor landscape is valued for many different qualities and characteristics. It also encouraged some great discussions, and helped gather invaluable feedback about how the Rideau Corridor should be managed and protected in the future.

This fall represents the final phase of the project comprising the landscape character assessment final report and recommendations. The recommendations will inform strategic and land use planning by Parks Canada, conservation authorities, municipalities and others as part of a broader Rideau Corridor Landscape Strategy.

Anyone interested in providing input is also encouraged to contribute to the online photographic library of the Rideau Corridor's landscapes. For those who were unable to attend the workshops, the presentation, maps and comment sheet are all available, including information about participating in these opportunities and about the project itself, on the website

Follow us on Twitter at @RideauCLS.

The Rideau Canal is a National Historic Site, Canadian Heritage River, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As part of the 2007 World Heritage Site designation, the World Heritage Committee recommended that the Rideau Canal's visual protection be strengthened outside of the established buffer zone to ensure the visual values of the setting are protected alongside environmental values.

As part of its commitment to the Rideau Corridor Landscape Strategy, Parks Canada is facilitating a Landscape Character Assessment to identify key features and values of the Rideau Corridor in order to support more effective planning and management of the Rideau Corridor's landscape into the future.

For further information on the Landscape Character Assessment project, please contact Parks Canada at or 613-283-5170.

For further information on the Rideau Corridor Landscape Strategy, please contact Doug Struthers, Chair, Rideau Corridor Landscape Strategy, at or 613-269-4791.

Google World Wonders Project
The Rideau Canal is one of three Canadian sites included in the Google World Wonders Project, which is making world heritage sites available to Internet users across the globe.
© Google

Google World Wonders Project includes Rideau Canal

Online wander of world wonder

Smiths Falls, Ontario, July 25, 2012 – Once again the Rideau Canal National Historic Site of Canada has been highlighted as an amazing wonder of the world. The Rideau Canal is one of three Canadian sites included in the Google World Wonders Project, which is making world heritage sites available to Internet users across the globe.

Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal is a treasured national resource that connects the towns and cities of Eastern Ontario. It provides opportunities for land and water-based recreation and preserves a rare combination of historical and ecological characteristics for a unique and complete cultural experience.

The Parks Canada Agency is delighted to have the Rideau Canal included as a wonder in the Google Wonders Project. Tourists from Canada and all over the world are drawn to the Rideau Canal because Parks Canada manages the canal in a way that preserves traditions of the site while offering visitors incredible opportunities to enjoy the cultural and natural beauty of the canal to build memorable experiences with their loved ones.

Now, countless people around the world can get an initial taste of the Rideau Canal from their Internet connected devices, which will raise the profile of the canal as a world must-see destination.

View the Rideau Canal World Wonders Project page.