Rideau Canal

While waiting for my tour of Parliament in Ottawa, I wandered down to the Rideau Canal to examine the locks. The canal connects Ottawa to Lake Ontario at Kingston using two rivers and several lakes.

Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Rideau Canal

The canal was opened in 1832 as a military strategy against a possible war with the US and is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America. Sadly, as many as 1,000 workers died from malaria during its construction over 6 years. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007.

Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal is now popular for pleasure boating with cruises offered by various companies. In the winter, parts of the canal in Ottawa are turned into the world’s largest outdoor skating rink.

Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Rideau Canal

Next to the locks is the Bytown Museum. It’s a history museum housed in the oldest stone building in Ottawa, built in 1827. Ottawa was founded as Bytown in 1826, after British Lieutenant-Colonel John By, and changed it’s name in 1855. It does a great job telling the history of the city and is also kid-friendly with some interactive exhibits. As of September 2016, adult admission is CAD$6.50, with a six language audioguide included.

Bytown Museum in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Bytown Museum

Bytown Museum and Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Bytown Museum and Rideau Canal

Bytown Museum in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Bytown Museum

Bytown Museum in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Bytown Museum

The imposing building just above the canal is the Château Laurier, a landmark hotel built in 1912 by the defunct Grand Trunk Railway. It was built in conjunction with Union Station (now the Government Conference Centre), located across the street. Canadian National Railway merged with Grand Trunk in 1923 and the hotel became one of the most important in its chain (which included Château Frontenac in Québec City).

Rideau Canal and Château Laurier in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Rideau Canal and Château Laurier

Château Laurier in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Château Laurier

Government Conference Centre (former Union Station) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Government Conference Centre (former Union Station)

After I crossed the locks and admired the scenery on the Ottawa River, I ended up in Major’s Hill Park, where I found a small Celtic cross erected as a memorial to the workers who died during the construction of the Rideau Canal. Walking through the wooded park offers great views of Parliament Hill and the river. From there, I explored the rest of downtown Ottawa.

Ottawa River in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Ottawa River

Celtic cross memorial in Major's Hill Park in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Celtic cross memorial

Parliament Hill from Major's Hill Park in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Parliament Hill from Major’s Hill Park

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