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A nine-day trip in a Boston Whaler on the Rideau Canal.

Rideau Canal, 2007

June 16, 2007 to June 24, 2007


In the summer of 2007 Chris and I explored the waters of the Rideau Canal (pronounced "reed-oh" by Canadians). We hauled our 22-foot outboard-powered Boston Whaler to the town of Kingston, Ontario, launched it there, and navigated the 145 miles by water to Ottawa, Ontario over six leisurely days. We spent two days in Ottawa, then returned to Kingston by train to fetch our truck and trailer, thence back to Ottawa by highway to load the boat, and finally returned by highway to Michigan. The experience is presented here in narrative form with the text supplemented with photographs and divided into separate articles, one for each day.

The Rideau Canal

In 2007 the Rideau Canal celebrates its 175th year of operation, making it the oldest waterway in North America in continuous operation. In French "rideau" means curtain, and in North American French-Indian dialect "rideau" is interpreted as "curtain of water" which is perhaps a reference to the cataract of the waterway where it falls into the Ottawa River. When we began this trip we were mainly ignorant of much of the abundant history of the Rideau Canal, and we knew of it only as a modern recreational waterway. In a week traveling its full length we learned more and more about it, and we began to appreciate its historical significance, as well as its excellent boating, wonderful scenery, and pleasant towns and villages. It was just very recently named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, joining other famous works of man like the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids of Egypt.

Very prominent in the history of the canal is Colonel John By, the military officer in charge of its construction who has lent his name to many of the geographic places along the route; what is now the city of Ottawa and capital of Canada was called Bytown, after Colonel By who founded it as his base for construction of the canal. The history of the Rideau Canal is well documented by several other websites, and this narrative does not try to go into any depth on that topic, but instead presents a recollection of our very pleasant week of travel on the canal and its surrounding cities and towns.

The narrative begins with Day One. It may be helpful to follow along by having this excellent map drawn by Ken Watson in a second window.

Jim Hebert
Beverly Hills, Michigan
July 2007