Rideau Canal National Historic Site

Rideau Canal National Historic Site

Rideau Canal is a dynamic cultural landscape corridor that continues to contribute to the social, economic, and environmental well-being of people throughout its course from Ottawa to Kingston. It is an important resource for the tourism sector, as well as a year-round recreational asset for local citizens and visitors. More by clicking here.

The dams and weirs of the UNESCO World Heritage Site need regular maintenance to ensure that they continue to meet their dynamic functions as working water management structures. This project will repair masonry and timber lock gates at Black Rapids Lock 13.


The emergence of an internal control system to guide the running of the canal is explored through analysis of Order Books maintained at the Isthmus lock station. These orders established labor processes, documentation, and authorization requirements. They were transmitted from the Rideau Canal Office at Bytown and passed from station to station.

The NCC has an ongoing program to assess the condition of dams on its waterways and carries out regular repairs for those that require it. The restoration of the Hogs Back Dam and Weir at Dows Lake will improve masonry conditions in the lock chamber and conserve heritage fabric for future generations. The NCC is also replacing the Chaffeys Swing Bridge that spans Indian Lake in downtown Merrickville-Wolford. This work will ensure that this vital link with the highway remains sound into the future.


The 202-kilometre Rideau Canal is an active waterway and fulfills its original dynamic function as a transportation corridor. Its natural and cultural heritage features and values are protected through the implementation of the Rideau Corridor Landscape Strategy.

Each of the 74 lock stations on the Rideau Canal is a cultural resource of national significance. The rehabilitation of these structures will improve the condition of their masonry to conserve heritage fabric and ensure that these historic structures continue to meet their functional and recreational needs.

Each year, a 7.8-kilometer section of the canal is transformed into the world’s largest skating rink, attracting skaters from around the world to Canada’s capital city. This winter activity supports SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Explore more!


The Rideau Canal has played an important role in shaping the City of Ottawa since its construction in the early nineteenth century. The City exists in large part because of the Canal and owes much of its current cultural heritage to it (Parks Canada, 2005).

A central component of the cultural landscape is a series of urban parks and open spaces with significant ecological values. These are an essential part of the overall character and sense of place of the national capital and contribute to its remarkable spirit and identity.

There are many recreational opportunities on the Rideau Canal system. It is a favorite destination for pleasure boating and is the world’s largest skating rink each winter. The site is also home to many historic structures including bridges, dams, and lock houses.


The Canal and its surrounding landscape inspire boaters, cyclists, and skaters during the summer and winter. It is one of Canada’s most beloved recreational and heritage destinations.

The Rideau Canal is the best-preserved slackwater canal of its era and is still fully operational along its original line. It has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognizing its Outstanding Universal Values.

The primary objective of the Canal was to provide a secure transportation corridor bypassing the St. Lawrence River in the event of a United States invasion of Canada. The resulting canal achieved this goal and also generated a significant profit from the fees charged for transporting goods and people on water-based vessels. The Order Book of the Isthmus lock station demonstrates how the canal officers governed and managed the canal’s operations. The microhistory of the Order Book reveals how internal controls, inscriptions, calculative practices, and narratives disciplined the canal’s operations in keeping with governmentality (Foucault, 1991).


Throughout the year, Parks Canada hosts community events and programs to highlight the heritage of the Rideau Canal. In winter, a 7.8 km section of the canal in downtown Ottawa is transformed into the world’s largest skating rink.

The microhistory of the Isthmus lock station demonstrates how internal control systems based on inscription, calculative practices, and narratives disciplined canal operations and lockmasters at a time when communication was difficult and in a geographic space where oversight had to be exerted from a distance (Foucault, 1991).

Specific approaches for sustaining the ecological landscape include annual or bi-annual inspections of septic systems on canal-front properties and efforts to identify and remove invasive species. Other initiatives are outlined in the following sections. Check out this interesting post!



Driving directions from Ottawa House Painter to Rideau Canal National Historic Site

Driving directions from Rideau Canal National Historic Site to Mooney’s Bay Park and Beach