The Rideau Canal between the Ottawa River and Lake Ontario is now used only by pleasure boats. The lift from the Ottawa River to the canal is through a series of picturesque locks between the Parliament Buildings and the Château Laurier Hotel. The first stone of one of the locks was laid by Sir John Franklin, the famous explorer.
The project that eventually led to the building of the Rideau Canal began on September 29, 1783, immediately after the end of the American Revolutionary War. British military leaders wanted a route from the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario that would not be exposed to the American border. Lieutenants Jones and French were assigned to survey what was ten wild territory and reported that a canal was possible by using the Rideau River and a chain of lakes.
Nothing was done until after the War of 1812, when the building of the canal again became an issue. In 1824, Upper Canada became impatient with the delay and had another survey made by Samuel Clewes. The British Government offered to lend upper Canada £70,000 to build the canal, but Upper Canada would not go through with it. In 1826, the British Government sent Colonel John By to build the canal. he built the eight locks up the steep cliff from the Ottawa River and reserved the land on either side for military purposes.
By coincidence, the opening ceremonies for the building of the canal in 1827 were on the same date that Jones and French began their survey, September 29. People came from near and far, on foot, in canoes and by ox-teams. It was an Indian summer: the forests were rich in colour, with scarlet maples and golden birches. During the opening ceremony, where Governor Dalhousie turned the first sod, frogs in nearby marshes provided their “musical” accompaniment. The first steamer, Rideau, made the journey from Kingston to Bytown in 1832. The route was busy until nearly 1900 when railways made it unnecessary.
However, it becomes the “World’s Longest Skating Rink” in the winter!
The Rideau Canal is amazing, as is its beginning. To learn more about it, I suggest going to the Rideau Canal World Heritage site, the Bytown Museum, the Canadian Encyclopedia, the Parks Canada. If you would like to take a holiday in Ottawa, then I would suggest clicking your way to Ottawa Tourism!
- Welcome to Canada’s Capital City (canada.answers.com)
- Cycling along the Rideau Canal (bethwalshphotography.wordpress.com)
- Presenting: Ottawa – Canada’s Capital and An Exciting Travel Destination (colemario20.wordpress.com)