Kayaking the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Ontario
Ken Whiting takes this episode of Paddle Tales to his hometown of Ottawa, Ontario where he kayaks the Rideau Canal.
“In the summer, the canal is an ideal route for boaters, paddlers, hikers and bikers. But despite its significance to the city of Ottawa, surprisingly few people (myself included) have explored more than a few miles of the Rideau Canal, often overlooking the full 126 miles of the route which winds its way through Eastern Ontario.
“So when the opportunity to experience a new section of this historical waterway presented itself to me, I grabbed my paddle and jumped at the chance.”
Ken’s Trip on the Rideau Canal
Despite Ken’s growing up years in Ottawa, he had virtually no experience on the Canal—a great example to remember not to overlook adventure right in your back yard!
Ken partnered with Le Boat in Smith Falls, Ontario, located right on the Rideau. This business that originated in Europe started a base in eastern Ontario and enables paddlers to access the river in its more out-of-the-way sections.
Le Boat set Ken up with a houseboat that took both he and his kayak along the Canal so he could explore parts of the river by kayak.
Part of his trip on the river was going through an 1800s era lock system to bypass a waterfall. Both canoeists and kayakers are welcome to use the hand-operated system to explore this riverway.
Valerie de Winter of Parks Canada was Ken’s guide for the Tay Canal portion. The Tay was added to the Rideau system for commercial reasons in the 1890s. It ended up being used primarily for recreational boating instead, including kayaking.
The Tay provides protected kayaking through a wetlands and natural area teeming with wildlife. Ken kayaked through the classic Canadian small town of Perth while on his route.
The Rideau Canal/River system also offers wonderful fishing, so Ken traded his touring kayak for a fishing kayak to throw in a line along with guide, Rob Jackson, of RJNBirdees Outdoor Adventures.
About the Rideau Canal
The Rideau Canal is 202 km long, a National Historic Site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a designated Historic River.
It flows from Canada’s capital city of Ottawa southwest to Kingston, winding through several communities on the way down. It offers paddlers both plenty of natural areas and cultural experiences.
The canal has 24 unique lock stations and is known as “one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century and is celebrated as the best-preserved slack water canal system in the country.”
It’s operated by Parks Canada.
The canal is open for boaters from mid-May to mid-October. You can either bring your own kayak, canoe or SUP board or rent one from any of the several outfitters along the Canal.
Click here for more information about planning a trip there yourself.
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