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How A Lock Works
Introduction | Locking Up or Down | Evolution of the Lock | Lock Facts | About the Rideau

Some Interesting Lock Facts

  • The amount of water used in an average Rideau Lock (10 foot lift) is 1.3 million litres (280,000 imp. gal.) To drink a lock dry, you would have to consume 5.6 million cups of water.


  • The gates of the locks are made with Douglas Fir at the canal shops in Smiths Falls. They last an average of 15 years before they need to be replaced.


  • There are 45 locks along the Rideau plus two more locks at the entrance to the Tay Canal.


  • The highest single lift is 7.9 m (26 ft.) at Smiths Falls and the lowest lift is 0.6 m (2 ft.) at Kilmarnock.


  • There are four types of gate opening mechanisms on the Rideau – the endless chain crab system, the swing bar crab system, the push bar crab system and the electric-hydraulic system. Can you tell which one you’re looking at?


  • A Rideau lock chamber is 40.8 m (134 ft.) long (sill to sill) by 10.1 m (33 ft.) wide. The maximum vessel length that can fit into a lock is 33 m (110 ft.) to allow room for the upper breastwork and the swing of the lower gates.


  • It cost £822,000 to build the canal in 1832. It would cost over $500 million to replace all the canal structures today.


  • The lift from Kingston to Upper Rideau Lake (the highest point on the system) is 50 m (164 ft.) in 14 locks. The lift from Ottawa to Upper Rideau Lake is 83.2 m (273 ft.) in 31 locks.


  • The canal extends 202 kilometres (125 miles) from Ottawa to Kingston. Along this distance there are 292 islands and 1091 kilometres (675 miles) of shoreline.

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Introduction | Locking Up or Down | Evolution of the Lock | Lock Facts | About the Rideau



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