Rideau Canal

From Academic Kids

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A portion of the world's largest skating rink
Canal during Winter
Canal during Winter

The Rideau Canal, also known as the Rideau Waterway, connects the city of Ottawa, Ontario on the Ottawa River to the city of Kingston, Ontario on Lake Ontario. The Rideau Canal was completed in 1832 and is still in use today. It is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America.



At the time it was proposed, shortly after the War of 1812, there was a real threat of attack from the United States on Britain's colonies in what is now Canada. To impede and deter any future American invasions, the British built various forts (eg. Citadel Hill, La Citadelle, and Fort Henry) and canals (eg. Grenville Canal (http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/qc/canalcarillon/natcul/natcul2_e.asp), Chute--Blondeau Canal (http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/qc/canalcarillon/natcul/natcul2_e.asp), Carillon Canal (http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/qc/canalcarillon/natcul/natcul2_e.asp), and the Rideau Canal) to defend its territory in the event of such incursions.

The canal's initial purpose was military - to provide a secure supply and communications route between Montreal and Kingston, Ontario. Westward from Montreal, travel would proceed along the Ottawa River to then Bytown (now Ottawa), then southwest via the canal to Kingston (and vice versa for eastward travel from Kingston to Montreal). The intent being to bypass the stretch of the St. Lawrence River bordering then Upper Canada (now the Province of Ontario) and New York State which would have left British supply ships vulnerable to attack.

No further military engagements have taken place between Canada and the United States since the canal was constructed, and consequently the Rideau Canal was never used for its intended purpose.

The construction of the canal was supervised by Lieutenant-Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers. Private contractors such as John Redpath, Thomas McKay and others were responsible for much of the construction and the majority of the actual work was done by thousands of Irish and French-Canadian labourers. While the exact number of deaths will likely never be known, as many as a thousand of these workers may have died from malaria, other diseases and accidents such as explosions during blasting. The final cost of the canal was 822,000. This was more than had been expected and By was recalled to London and questioned by a parliamentary committee before being cleared of any wrongdoing.

The Waterway

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Locks entering the Ottawa River

The 202 kilometres (125 miles) of the Rideau Canal incorporate sections of the Rideau River and the Cataraqui River, as well as several lakes including the Lower, Upper and Big Rideau lakes. About 19 kilometres (12 miles) of the route is man made.

Today, only pleasure craft make use of the Rideau Canal. Boat tours of the Canal are offered in the city of Ottawa and hobbyist boaters can make use of it to travel between Ottawa and Kingston with ease. Most of the locks are still hand-operated. There are a total of 49 locks at 23 stations along the Canal.

In normal operations the canal can handle boats up to 27.4m (90ft) in length, 7.9m (26ft) in width, and 6.7m (22ft) in height. In special circumstances a boat up to 33.5m (110ft) in length by 9.1m (30ft) in width can be handled.

Communities along the waterway include:

The Skateway

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Skaters on the Rideau Canal near Bank Street.

In winter, the section of the Rideau Canal which passes through the city of Ottawa becomes the world's longest skating rink. The cleared area is 7.8 kilometers long and has the equivalent surface area of 90 Olympic hockey rinks. It serves as a popular tourist attraction and recreational area and is also the focus of the Winterlude festival in Ottawa. Beaver Tails, pastries topped with ingredients such as cinnamon, lemon, and maple syrup, are a popular treat on the Canal and are sold, along with other foods, in kiosks scattered along the length of the skateway.

See Also

External links

eo:Kanalo Rideau fr:Canal Rideau


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