September 15/18 (Part 3) – Rideau Canal and Locks (Rideau Waterway), Ottawa

Between the Chateau Laurier Hotel and Parliament Hill, exists a set of locks that are but a small portion of the Rideau Waterway, a 202 km long system of canals and lakes that connect Ottawa and the Ottawa River to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River at Kingston.

The system, built in 1832, is the oldest continually operated canal system in North America  and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. Originally opened as a precaution, in case of war with the U.S. and used commercially for many years, it mainly serves pleasure boats today. The locks are run by Parks Canada and opened in mid May and closed in mid October.

The locks in Ottawa are hand cranked, which seemed to baffle one European tourist who wondered why they were not motorized. We watched a pleasure boat make the transit of the first few locks down to the Ottawa River. Costs for using these locks are $8.80/lineal foot (50% discount for canoes and kayaks) for the season.

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