Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rideau Canal

June 30-July 8

Days 231-239

What a fantastic addition to our Loop! We began our voyage in the Rideau Canal by entering Canada's Capital city through the 8 locks that literally stairstep us up into Ottawa. This requires about three hours to traverse, and we were definitely ready for a break when we reached the top. As we have timed our arrival with July 1st, the equivalent to our 4th of July, Ottawa is a very busy place. The walls are lined with boaters and tourists who are here to share in the celebration. Canada Day turned out to be a rainy day, but it didn't seem to dampen anyones spirits. Many of the streets around Parliament Hill were closed to vehicle traffic, allowing the thousands of pedestrians free access to the roadways. There were a multitude of activities scheduled throughout the day, culminating in a wonderful fireworks display over the Ottawa River. Knowing we would not be seeing any fireworks on the 4th we just pretended these were ours too. The next week proved to be one of the nicest parts of our adventure so far. We traveled through the urban areas around Ottawa in the north, that gradually gave way to the lakes and marshes in the south, as we continued through the 46 locks of the Rideau. Along the way we visited a number of extremely friendly and picturesque villages. Met so many helpful, informative, congenial lock tenders at every station that our overnighters moored to lock walls became an unexpected highlight of our trip through the canal. Parks Canada has done an amazing job providing stunning parks along the canal for the use of transient boaters. It appears that it has almost become a competition between lockstations as to whom will have the most beautifully landscaped stop along our way. When we arrived in the lake region, it was time to put our nonresident Ontario fishing license to use. Anchoring in these beautiful waters while catching a few fish along the way was certainly no hardship! 

Our arrival below the first locks. There were many of us headed into the canal at this point, so Gud Nuff and Bama Dream had to ascend in two different groups. This worked out great, because it gave Ralph and Janet the opportunity to get a few pictures of us as we went through the first couple of locks, and we were able to return the favor as they completed their trip through lock 8.

There may be some disadvantages to having one of the larger boats looping, but I have discovered that when it comes to locking through these smaller canals in Canada it definitely has its advantage. I don't know if the lock tenders think we will run into the smaller vessels or not, but they always want us to lead the way.

We are securely attached to the cables as we prepare to ascend to the second lock. The proceedure is simple enough (at least when everything goes perfectly), I put a line through the second cable and hold on while Jess shuts off the engines and quickly grabs a cable at the stern and attaches a line. Easy enough, usually!

This group of day campers followed us along a few of the locks. I am not sure exactly how excited they were with this field trip, but they did have some interesting questions. One little girl wanted to know if she could go for a boat ride with us.

Jess should have a summary of our trip memorized by now. Everone wants to know where we are from, and then how on earth we got here from Alabama!

The canal walls are lined with boaters as everyone has arrived to celebrate Canada Day!

As the stairstep locks ascend into Ottawa Parliament Hill provides the scenery on your port side, while the castle-like Fairmont Chateau Laurier looms above your starboard side. Talk about a grand entrance!

One of the majestic government buildings on Parliament Hill. European influence is certainly more pronounced here than it is in the U. S., at least when it comes to architecture.

They just don't build them with this much detail anymore! 

Ottawa, just like Washington D. C., is home to statues and monuments on every corner. 

This is the Library of Parliament, the only remaining section of the original Parliament building, which burned in 1916. Built in 1876 it provides information, reference and research services for members of the Parliament. Sure looks different than the library I spent thirty years in!

A view of the 8 steps leading up into the beautiful city of Ottawa.

As darkness fell and the lights lit up the night sky the waterfront took on a whole new look. 

The military pageantry was exhibited throughout the city, as they celebrated their Independence Day!

One of the many cathedrals that grace this stunning skyline. Canadian flags were flying everywhere. We have discovered, as we continue our trek through Canada, that flying their countries flag is very important to a vast majority of Canadians.

The crowds were thick and exuberant as they waited for the fireworks to begin.

The fireworks display was fantastic! We were a little disappointed because we have become used to having our displays accompanied by Sousa and Lee Greenwood at home.

A bright, sunshiny day greets us as we pull away from the wall to continue out journey down the Rideau.

After Lock 12 we made our first stop to visit Hogs Back Falls. Construction of the canal between 1826 and 1832, changed the natural shape of the falls, but they are still an awesome example of the forces of nature. Our short stop here was extended when Janet and I realized our guys had disappeared. We spent at least 20 minutes searching for them before we found them patiently waiting for us on the other side of the road. We may both need leashes!

As we cruised through the canal we were entertained by some gliders enjoying this perfect day. I have always thought it must be an awesome feeling to soar through the air with no disturbing engine noise.

Bama Dream secured to another lock wall. Most of the locks have well manicured park areas along their walls with restroom facilities available. Several of the locks along the Rideau also offer power, enabling boaters to keep their generator usage to a minimum.

As we leave the more heavily populated areas the locks have fewer observers. The scenery has changed also as we see the more expected forestation and lakes of the north woods.

The water is rushing over this lock before we begin our rise to the next level. The Rideau Canal is a National Historic Site and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the best-preserved 'slackwater' canal in North America, and the only canal from the great 19th century canal building era that still operates along its origional route and with most of its origional structures intact. With a very few exceptions, the gates and bridges are still operated by hand.

A stop in Merrickville after Lock 23 provided us with a sight we don't find at home in Alabama. In addition to the other playing fields in the park, this hockey rink stands ready for some freezing temperatures.

This is an example of the beautiful stonework the town of Merrickville is famous for. The flowers are amazing all through Canada. The days are long, providing plenty of sunshine, and the mild summertime temperatures don't burn up the plants.

Celebrating the 4th of July in Canada with new friends we have met along the way. Angie and Dan from Sea Horse, who we first met at the Rendezvous, and Janet and Ralph from Gud-Nuff, who we have been traveling with since we met them on the Hudson River, shared a nice meal and numerous stories at the Main Street Cafe. Our waitress was super nice, adding to our evening by finding a recording of America the Beautiful that she played over their sound system. We all proudly stood and added our patriotic voices to the music. It was great fun, but we will not be cutting a record!

The Rideau is actually a series of ditches that were dug in order to connect the many small lakes in this region. At times we cruised down very narrow passages and at other times we were in much wider bodies of water.

A quick stop at Smith's Falls in order to purchase nonresident Ontario fishing licenses and we are soon searching for fishy looking anchorages like this one!

There are so many bluegill in these waters that it is virtually impossible to drop a hook and not get a bite. Jess had to show off by putting two hooks on his line and quickly catching two at a time. That didn't last too long though, because between getting his fish off, and helping me with mine, he was spending way too much time handling fish and not enough time fishing. What a horrible situation to be in!

Another peaceful sunset in Canada. Listening to the loons call in the evenings is a wonderful way to end a lovely day on the water. Fighting off the multitude of bugs is not so great!

This rocky island in the middle of Sand Lake is called Birmingham Island. There was probably some Earl or Duke of Birmingham back somewhere in British history. 

Jones Falls locks are another stairstep set of three locks, so we had time to enjoy a walk while we waited for our turn. The Rideau Canal was actually designed and built shortly after the War of 1812. At that time the Canadians were still very much afraid that the dreaded Americans to their south would try to invade Canada, so many of the lockstations were built to resist attacks. 

This lock tender's residence was designed to enable the inhabitants to fend off attack from all sides. The structure is solid stone with rifle firing slits, and very few windows.

No lock here, just one more bridge that must be operated manually in order for us to pass. All along the canal the park employees are ready with a 'Good Morning' and 'Have a Great day'. It was such a pleasure to meet so many people that seemed to genuinely love their job and were happy that we were visiting their country.

As we come close to the end of our trip through the Rideau, our view as we enter a lock changes. We are no longer ascending, but are now descending to the river below. 

Some of the locks are connected to automobile bridges that must be opened either before of after we traverse the lock. While we wait to leave the lock, two young people use their muscles to swing the bridge around behind us. Some of the lock tenders are older, full time employees, but many of them are college students who are working for the summer.

Gud-Nuff as we leave the last lock upon our arrival in Kingston. What a fabulous 8 days!

The lift bridge rises to allow us to leave the River Styx and enter the St. Lawrence River again.

There were many boaters out enjoying a beautiful summer day on the water including this large group of sailboats preparing for a race. We are now on our way to Trenton, where we will begin our voyage through the Trent Severn Waterway.

1 comment:

  1. I am so enjoying your commentary and photos! I wish you continued safe travels and wonderful memories!