June 20,2016 – The Rideau canal was built in the early 1800’as a means for the English to move goods To Ottawa and on to Montreal without using the St Lawrence River, which the Americans could easily attack from the New York side.. The canal connects a series of lakes, which minimized the amount of canal actually needed. It is somewhat ironic that so many folks from the US now travel through these same waters as a vacation paradise. There are 47 locks on the canal, so by the end, we will be fabulous lock hands and helmsmen!
Lynn flew out of Ottawa before we departed, leaving her husband Scott to travel with us down the canal to Kingston, which is on the St Lawrence. Good thing too, as it turns out Scott’s a pretty good cook, and “cookie” whipped up some great chow for lunch and for the nights that we stayed “on the blue line” at the locks with no easy food nearby. Mike’s Bubba burgers on the grill complimented Scott’s salads. Bob had KP duty.
The locks vary, but the vast majority of them are hand operated by Parc Canada personnel. Even the small swing bridges are manually opened by turning cranks. All interesting to see, and amazing in the simplicity and ease of operation. They can also be pretty isolated, with no towns nearby and clearly in some rural locations.
The canals can be pretty narrow, with rocky ledges and sides. Best to stay focused and in the middle of the ever so small channel here! Our sturdy vessel maneuvers through and easily handles the 2 inch seas, so it was smooth sailing all the way, although admittedly, Mike made a few navigational errors and missed a turn or two! Bob also missed the channel but Mike was below decks so he never saw the mud trailing the boat.
Once again, on a flight of locks we missed the last lock through of the day, but it was mainly because summer hours had not started yet, and the locks were only open from 10 to 4. If there are multiple locks, you might need to be at the lock several hours before closing to make it through. Arriving timely is hampered by the 10kph, or 6mph speed limit on much of the canal which limits your ability to make good time from lock to lock -so slow and steady is the theme of the day!