The oldest continuously operated canal system in North America and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ridaeu Canal runs right through the soul of Ottawa. It connects the capital from Lake Ontario to the Saint Lawrence River at Kingston, flowing 125 miles opening Canada up to settlement and trade. Some people take multi day tours riding the length of the water, but there are many ways you can experience the canal on land in the city. Right in downtown you can visit locks 1-8.
Can you believe most of the 45 locks are actually still hand operated?
In the same spot is the Bytown Museum [1 Canal Ln, Ottawa, ON K1P 5P6, Canada] housed in the oldest stone building in the city. Did you know that Bytown was the original name of Ottawa? The museum discusses the growth and development of capital. Grueling labor was necessary to build this great canal, hundreds of people died due to accidents, disease, and cold during the process. One of the most difficult projects was trying to dam Hog’s Back Falls – where the Rideau River and Rideau Canal part ways. Today you can take a short walk to the spectacular manmade waterfall, sometimes referred to as Prince of Wales Falls.
Peaceful trails lead to perfect vistas and hidden picnic spots.
Don’t forget to take a walk out to the rocks at the base of the falls.
Parking is free, there are restrooms available. In winter the scene around the canal changes completely – it becomes the worlds largest natural ice rink! Five miles long and free to skate – it sounds like a bucket list winter adventure.