The Rideau Canal waterway is a recreational paradise, attracting visitors from around the world to explore its 202 km length, 24 lockstations and surrounding communities. Designated as a National Historic Site, a Canadian Heritage River and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the waterway crosses a varied landscape, changing from the vibrant urban centres of Ottawa and Kingston, to farmland, small towns, cottage country and rugged wilderness.

Whether you live, work or play along the canal, as Canadians, we all share in the responsibility to ensure this special place is appreciated and enjoyed in ways that leave it unimpaired for present and future generations.

If you are a property owner on the Rideau Canal, you may be considering alterations to your property. Perhaps you’re unsure of the boundaries of the Rideau Canal or are a bit confused about jurisdictions. You may be thinking, “Who do I get a permit from and for what?” Below you will find key information about shoreline permitting, the role of Parks Canada in development reviews, and best practices for healthy waterfront properties.

Get in touch with us! Together we can ensure that the Rideau Canal remains healthy and protected.

What is the geographical limit of the Rideau Canal National Historic Site and UNESCO World Heritage Site?

The Rideau Canal extends from the Ottawa Locks in downtown Ottawa to the south end of the Cataraqui River at Lake Ontario in Kingston. Along its way, it comprises two rivers, the Rideau River from Hogs Back Locks south, and the Cataraqui River, and many lakes, as seen in this map (PDF, 2.41 Mb). A complete list of all the water bodies under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada can be found in Appendix B of the Policies for In-Water and Shoreline Works and Related Activities.

What is Parks Canada's Role?

The Parks Canada Agency has ownership and jurisdiction over the bed of the Rideau Canal and its lakes and rivers to the original upper controlled water elevation. As such, Parks Canada has jurisdiction over, and issues permits for, all in-water and shoreline works built in, on or over the bed of the canal.

What constitutes an 'In-Water or Shoreline Work'?

From docks to boatports and beyond, the Policies for In-Water and Shoreline Works and Related Activities provide clear direction for the construction of in-water and shoreline works and related activities normally associated with the development and use of waterfront properties for residential purposes adjacent to the Rideau Canal and Trent–Severn Waterway National Historic Sites of Canada. The Policies are enforceable under the authority of the Historic Canals Regulations pursuant to the Department of Transport Act. Failure to comply may result in fines and/or restore orders and removal of unauthorized works.

I just want to install a dock and stabilize my shoreline – Do I need a permit? How much does it cost? Who do I pay?

ANY activity listed in the Policies for In-Water and Shoreline Works and Related Activities, including but not limited to docks, boatports / boathouses, boat lifts, floating rafts, shoreline stabilization, dredging and repairs to existing structures all require the application and approval of an In-Water and Shoreline Work Permit.

Application Fees:
Private/Residential                     $52.50
Existing Commercial Operation      $105.00
New Commercial Operation          $262.50

Completed Shoreline Work Permit applications can be submitted to:

Rideau Canal Office
Parks Canada
34 Beckwith Street South
Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada
K7A 2A8

Attach a cheque payable to the “Receiver General for Canada” for the application fee* (taxes included)

For complete information, please see the Instructions and Application below.

Rideau Canal In-Water and Shoreline Work Permit - Application and Instructions

PDF (51 KB) Word (118 KB)

How long does it take to review an application?

It is recommended that a Shoreline Work Permit be submitted well in advance of the desired time to undertake the work, as it can take at least 6 weeks to review and approve an application. Once approved, the permit is valid for one year. Please note that there is no in-water and shoreline work permitted during the fish spawning season from March 15 – July 1 of any given year.

Have more questions about shoreline permitting?

Please call us at the Rideau Canal Office at 613-283-7199 ext 284.

Working together – Parks Canada, Conservation Authorities and the Municipalities

Regulation under the Ontario Planning Act requires that Parks Canada, as an adjacent landowner, is circulated for comments on development applications occurring on lands adjacent to the Rideau waterway. Development applications can include such things as severance of land, minor variance applications and zoning changes. In this role, Parks Canada staff work closely with the Conservation Authorities as the Rideau Waterfront Development Review Team to coordinate our review and provide advice and recommendations to municipalities and counties on these applications.

This Who to Call (PDF, 219 Kb) table provides an overview of whom you should contact when undertaking typical projects on your waterfront property.

Conservation Authorities

There are two Conservation Authorities that provide services and programs along the Rideau waterway. The Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority operates in the area from Newboro to Kingston and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority operates in the area from Westport to Ottawa. Shoreline property owners may require approval from one of the Conservation Authorities for permission to do work if property (or part of it) is within the Authorities’ regulated area. 

Municipalities along the Rideau Canal

Parks Canada also works closely with the 13 municipalities and three counties along the canal to protect and enhance the natural environment, cultural heritage and scenic values of the waterway and its surrounding landscape.

Not sure if you live in a municipality that abuts the Rideau? Below is a list of the 13 municipalities and the three counties (organized north to south), with a link to their respective planning and development webpage (where available).

City of Ottawa
Municipality of North Grenville
Village of Merrickville-Wolford
Township of Montague
Town of Smiths Falls
Township of Drummond – North Elmsley
Town of Perth
Tay Valley Township
Township of Rideau Lakes
Village of Westport
Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands
Township of South Frontenac
City of Kingston
Lanark County
United Counties of Leeds and Grenville
County of Frontenac

Take part in Shoreline Protection and Contribute to the Overall Health of Rivers and Lakes!

Naturalized shorelines provide habitat for species, protect water quality, provide bank stability, and much more. Maintaining a natural and vegetated waterfront also enhances the visual setting of this World Heritage Site and minimizes the impact of waterfront development on the scenic views and natural heritage values of the waterway. For more information about good shoreline practices, and working together to protect and enhance this significant waterway, please visit the links below.

10 Principles for Good Development
Summarized advice on appropriate development along the canal.

Rideau Corridor Landscape Strategy
A collaborative effort between the federal, provincial and municipal governments and First Nations to address the World Heritage Committee’s recommendation to protect the visual setting of the Rideau Canal.

The Shore Primer  (PDF 1.33 Mb - Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
Learn how to preserve your shoreline's true nature and ways to restore an altered shoreline.

Shoreline Naturalization Program (Rideau Valley Conservation Authority)
Rideau Valley Conservation Authority's Shoreline Naturalization Program offers technical guidance and financial assistance to waterfront property owners within the Rideau Watershed interested in naturalizing their shorelines.

Species at risk on the Rideau Canal
The Rideau Canal, with its many rivers, lakes and wetlands is home to numerous species at risk. Finding all of these rare species along the 202km canal can be a fun challenge! Learn how you can help protect species at risk in your community.

Blue-green algae (Ontario Ministry of the Environment)
Information about blue-green algae: background, potential impacts to human health and safety of drinking water

Watch Your Wake
Parks Canada's goal is to educate boaters on the reasons why it is important to reduce speed, respect speed limits and watch their wake at all times.

Species at Risk - Fact sheets

What is a Habitat? PDF
There's no place like home!

Working Together to Save Species at Risk PDF
Is there a species at risk in my neighbourhood?

The Species at Risk Act and the Parks Canada Agency PDF
Working together to protect species

How do Species Become at Risk? PDF
On the path to extinction