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Advocacy for the heritage of the Rideau Canal

"Heritage Doesn't Protect Itself - it needs Heritage Champions"

Consistent with our manadate to protect the heritage and charm of the Rideau Canal we do advocacy in support of that cause.

This is a role that has occupied much of our time since Parks Canada abandoned their heritage mandate on the Rideau Canal when they re-organized into a Waterways Unit (combining the Rideau Canal and Trent-Severn Waterway) in 2012. Parks Canada decided to simply operate the Rideau Canal as a recreational waterway and changed its focus from heritage protection and presentation, to things like adding oTENTiks to lockstations.

We do advocacy in a number of ways:

Local Level

We do our best to work with local management. Unfortunately we've run into problems in that the senior manager, the Director of Ontario Waterways, is located on the Trent-Severn Waterway in Peterborough, not on the Rideau Canal in Smiths Falls. We've also had the misfortune that the senior manager (Director) from 2013-2018, had no understanding of heritage and no desire to follow Parks Canada's legislation that mandates heritage presentation or to do any public engagement with groups such as Friends of the Rideau.

We've recently become a bit more optimistic now that it appears we have new management that has some understanding of heritage and of Parks Canada's legislated mandates, but they are still handcuffed by poor senior management within Parks Canada which does not provide the Rideau Canal with the resources it requires to do heritage protection and presentation.  And of course the COVID pandemic created a number of problems.

We made a significant effort in 2021 with the long overdue management plan "consultations". See our Management Plan page for details.

We will continue to try to dialog with Parks Canada as best we can and suggest ways that they can deliver their heritage manadate with our help.

Broader Level

Our newsletter, which usually contains an advocacy article or two, is broadly distributed, not only to our membership, but also to other heritage organizations along the Rideau, to all MPPs and MPs who have part of the Rideau Corridor in their jurisdiction and of course to several people in Parks Canada, including the CEO.


We write to the Canadian government at times - the Prime Minister and the Minister of Department of Environment and Climate Change (who is in charge of the Parks Canada Agency). We rarely get a reply which is disappointing, but we continue to try.

In 2021, we wrote a Letter of Concern to UNESCO about Parks Canada's mismanagement of the Rideau Canal as World Heritage Site. In 2019, UNESCO expressed concerns about the fact that Parks Canada was not managing the Rideau Canal as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We re-interated that fact and also the severe issues with the new "management" plan (which isn't in fact a management plan by anyone's definition).


We DO NOT do political lobbying - that is not allowed as a non-profit charity - so we don't do it.

Friends of the Rideau
P.O. Box 1232, Stn. Main
Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada, K7A 5C7

email: info@rideaufriends.com

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