Friends of the Rideau regrets to announce that its Rideau Canal visitor centre, The Depot, in Merrickville, will not be open this summer. Due to delays in the project by Parks Canada to repair and refurbish The Depot building, the facility is not available for occupancy. We look forward to seeing you in 2021.
The Rideau Canal is now fully open, operating under COVID-19 safety protocols. Camping is allowed for boaters, but not for cyclists or hikers. Group gatherings are not permitted. For the latest information, please check the Parks Canada COVID-19 Page
Our Chair, Hunter McGill, sent a letter to Minister Wilkinson (in charge of Parks Canada) expressing our deep concerns over the lack of heritage interpretation and public education by Parks Canada on the Rideau Canal, the lack of protection for the Rideau's heritage landscapes, and the long overdue creation of a new management plan for the Rideau Canal. See Letter to Minister Wilkinson, February 7, 2020.
** It's interesting to note that UNESCO expressed concerns about threats to the Rideau's heritage landscapes within days of this letter being sent to Minister Wilkinson. We're not the only ones concerned about the lack of heritage management of the Rideau Canal.
A new management plan is needed for the Rideau Canal, the last one was done in 2005. Consultations with the public, scheduled for 2018, delayed until 2019, delayed again to 2020, have been delayed again, this time due to COVID-19. Hopefully it will happen in 2021. See the Rideau Canal Management Plan Page.
INDEPENDENT WORKING GROUP
In the fall of 2018, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change formed an independent working group to look into the current problems with Parks Canada (primarily loss of focus and resources for ecology and heritage). In late August, 2019, the working group's report was made public. It includes things such as restoring commemorative integrity as a first priority and working closer with NGOs such as Friends of the Rideau. You can read the full report here: Independent Working Group Report
The Rideau Canal Waterway is a popular vacation spot for boating, cruising, recreation, fishing, tourism, Canadian heritage appreciation, and enjoying the outdoors. The locks that connect the beautiful lakes and rivers that make up the Rideau Canal were first opened in 1832. It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1925. In 2000, the Rideau Waterway was designated a Canadian Heritage River, recognizing its outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values. This designation also celebrates the role of the Rideau Waterway in Canada's history, not the least of which was the founding of our nation's capital, Ottawa. In 2007 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognizing the canal as a masterpiece of human creative genius.
(click on map for larger view)
The Rideau, which extends 202 kilometres from Kingston to Ottawa, is the oldest continuously operated canal in North America with the locks at most of the 24 lockstation still hand-operated, much as they were when the canal first opened in 1832.
The Rideau Canal is living history, each of the historic lockstations is a fascinating place to explore.
In the summer, drop by the Depot run by the Friends of the Rideau at Merrickville, near the blockhouse, right beside the Canal.
The waters teem with panfish - bluegills, pumpkinseed, black crappie - while the back bays, weedbeds, and shorelines are home to smallmouth and largemouth bass. Some of the Rideau lakes boast lake trout. Pike are plentiful, and the waters of the Long Reach are famous for muskellunge. Bring your boat or rent one at the many marinas in the Rideau Corridor.
For those driving, the Rideau Heritage Route, from Kingston to Ottawa, passes through many interesting local communities and provides access to the lockstations which are well worth a visit.
Free boating and general information packages are available by contacting the Rideau Canal Office of Parks Canada at 613-283-5170 or by email at: RideauCanalfirstname.lastname@example.org (please include your postal mailing address in your email)
General Rideau info is available by calling the Parks Canada Call Centre at: 1-888-773-8888
Friends of the Rideau
P.O. Box 1232, Stn. Main
Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada, K7A 5C7 email: email@example.com
SUPPORT THE RIDEAU
A membership in Friends of the Rideau is only $20 CDN. Your membership will help to support our work to enhance and preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the Rideau. If you love the Rideau, consider taking out a membership today. Please see our membership page.