|Explore the Rideau Canal
and Friends of the Rideau
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The Rideau Corridor is host to several interesting villages, towns and cities. Anchored in the north by our nation's capital, Ottawa and in the south by the limestone city of Kingston, the Rideau Corridor is home to farms, cottages, artists' havens, interesting shops, pastoral landscapes, historic locks, sparkling lakes, tranquil rivers, and much more.
Whether you come by boat along the Rideau Canal Waterway, or by vehicle along the Rideau Heritage route, please take some time to visit some of our interesting towns and villages. Follow the motto of Perth to "make haste slowly."
An interesting feature of the village is Dickinson Square Conservation Area which hosts Watson's Mill , the F.E Ayers Building and Dickinson House. The story of the mill is one of love and tragedy, well worth a visit to find out more.
Kemptville is home to the internationally renowned College of Agriculture (now part of the University of Guelph). Crown land near the Ferguson Forest Centre, bordering the entire west shore of Kemptville Creek, offer several kilometres of hiking trails. Kemptville Creek is navigable by shallow draught boats for about 3 miles (5 km) to the town. Limiting depths are 3 feet (1 m) at datum and bridge heights of 11 feet (3.5 m). The town offers a variety of stores and restaurants, and travellers can obtain supplies from the several businesses fronting Highway 43.
The story goes that, soon after settling there, they were dying from a fever when they were rescued by a band of local natives, nursed back to health, and even had their crops harvested for them. Ever after, the Burritt home was a welcoming place for natives travelling the Rideau.
When Colonel By came through in 1826, Burritts Rapids was a thriving village with several businesses. The village, like the Rideau Canal itself, lost its commercial importance at the start of the 20th century. To learn more about this charming village and the countryside, visit the lockstation and take a stroll down the Tip-to-Tip Trail.
Today Merrickville is a thriving community, renown for its many interesting crafts and arts shops and well maintained stone buildings. It is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon browsing the stores and admiring the architecture of the town.
Merrickville is home to the famous Blockhouse, which sits in defence of the local locks. Adjacent to the Blockhouse you will find The Depot, the retail outlet and Rideau interpretation centre of Friends of the Rideau.
Originally known as Smyth's Falls, it was named after Thomas Smyth, a United Empire Loyalist who received a 400 acre land grant in the area in 1786. However it wasn't until 1823 that Smyth built the first mill at the falls. Smyth's ownership of the land was contested and he lost it. The land eventually ended up in the possession of Abel Russell Ward who in 1826 actively started to built a settlement. It became known as "Wardsville", but by 1836 was more commonly known as "Smith's Falls". It was this name that was officially incorporated in 1883 (corrected in 1968 as "Smiths Falls").
In the late 1800s the railway came to town and Smiths Falls benefited by becoming the regional railway hub for both the Canadian Northern Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Boaters going through Smiths Falls will pass under the magnificent Scherzer rolling-lift railway bridge (a type of bascule bridge) which was built in 1912-13 by the Dominion Bridge Company of Lachine, Quebec for the Canadian Northern Railway. The bridge is no longer in service and is now in a permanently raised position.
Smiths Falls is also home to the lock with the single largest lift on the Rideau (26 feet - 7.9 m). This lock was built (with much controversy), in 1973-74, replacing the original flight of 3 locks located in the centre of town. The original locks are still there, providing the visitor a glimpse at the inner workings of a Rideau lock.
Today Perth is a thriving community with all the modern conveniences wonderfully blended with the charm of an "Old Ontario" town. It is accessible by boat from the Rideau by locking through the Beveridges locks into the Tay Canal which will lead you to the middle of downtown Perth.
Portland remained a centre of commerce through the 1800s, serving the commercial boat traffic that plied the Rideau. The business directory for 1866-67 listed coopers, hotel keepers, store keepers, blacksmiths, wagon makers, mitten makers, a watch maker, a miller, and a dentist. When commercial activity along the Rideau slowed down in the early 1900s, the main activity in Portland became a service centre for local residents (including two large marinas). This remains Portland's raison d'être to this day.
Westport, a quiet little village with a population of about 700, is a very popular destination spot for tourists due to the number of interesting shops in the town. It was first settled in the early 1800s and was known as Head of the Lake. By 1829 a family by the name of Manhard had built a saw mill and grist mill and the community became known as Manhard's Mills. It was renamed in 1841 as Westport, reflecting its location at the west end of Upper Rideau Lake.
The Foley Mountain Conservation Area, located adjacent to Westport, offers a great view of Westport, as well as many opportunities for hiking and nature viewing. Westport also hosts several yearly festivals including the annual Heritage Festival, held in late June, the annual Rideau Valley Art Festival, held at the end of August, and the very popular Fall Colours Studio Tour, held in early October.
Today Newboro is is a quiet little community, catering to anglers out to enjoy the fishing bounty of the Rideau lakes. It also provides a very popular upscale shopping experience.
Today, Elgin, located just of Highway 15, is the main service centre for area residents, including the many seasonal residents that enjoy cottaging in the southern Rideau lakes area.
By the 20th century, Chaffeys became a centre for recreational fishing, supporting a large tourist trade. Every morning would see a parade of fishing guide skiffs heading north to Indian Lake or south to Opinicon Lake. Today Chaffeys still attracts many tourists who enjoy its quiet ambiance.
Delta is host to several yearly events including the Delta Maple Syrup Festival, held in mid-April, the Delta Fair, one of Canada's oldest fairs (first held in 1830), held at the end of July, and a Thanksgiving Festival, held on Thanksgiving weekend in October, featuring lots of local produce, crafts, and hot apple cider. In November and December the local park is lit up with thousands of lights as part of Delta's Celebrating the Season event.
Seeleys Bay, as the first full service community north of Kingston, continues today in its role as a stop for visitors travelling the Rideau. It is host to an annual winter festival held in February, known as Frost Fest, celebrating the fun of a Rideau winter.
Kingston - The Limestone City
At the meeting point of Lake Ontario, the 1000 Islands of the St. Lawrence River, and the Rideau Canal, Kingston is a natural jumping off place. There are six exits off Highway 401, as well as by Highway 2 via the 1000 Islands Parkway, Highway 15 from Ottawa, and the Loyalist Parkway ( Highway 33 ). The Ivy Lea Bridge spans the 1000 Islands to U.S. Interstate 81 just 30 minutes east of Kingston.
Kingston has topnotch docking facilities: Portsmouth Olympic Harbour and Confederation Basin Marina. The latter is located in the heart of downtown Kingston, guarded by Old Fort Henry. Dating back to the 1600s and the time of Count Frontenac, Kingston has many historic limestone buildings, giving the city its name "The Limestone City".
Ottawa - The Nation's Capital
Follow the Rideau Canal from Hog's Back Falls past the Central Experimental Farm and Arboretum to Dow's Lake. Continue past Lansdowne Park to the National Arts Centre. You will see the Parliament Buildings and the final majestic flight of eight locks on the Rideau, connecting it to the Ottawa River.
In the winter, the frozen Canal becomes the world's longest skating rink. Winterlude, a festival of ice sculptures and open-air entertainment held in February, takes place throughout Ottawa with a focus on the Rideau Canal Skateway.
By car, Ottawa can be reached via Highway 15 from Kingston, Highway 7 from Toronto, and Highway 416 from Highway 401 at Prescott. The Ottawa-Ogdensburg National Bridge spans the St. Lawrence Seaway at Ogdensburg, New York, offering easy access to Highway 416.
View of the Parliament Buildings and the Ottawa Locks from the Plaza Bridge
P.O. Box 1232, Stn. Main
Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada, K7A 5C7
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