Top Ten Canada Classic Adventures

Boat the Rideau Canal
By Bill McRae

Shallow marshes, alive with birds and wildlife, and rolling farmland: The most relaxing way to see this side of Canada is by boat along the Rideau Canal. Built amid the same 19th-century canal fever that swept the U.S., the 125-mile Rideau Canal joins a number of lakes and rivers between Lower Canada (Quebec) and Upper Canada (Ontario and the Great Lakes area).

From Kingston, 45 hand-operated wooden locks and sluice gates will lift you through the ascent of the Cataraqui River, passing through the Greater Cataraqui Marsh. You'll then descend through the Rideau Lakes and Rideau River, the place to keep binoculars at the ready.

You have a choice of boats: It's easy to rent cruisers, houseboats, canoes and kayaks at either end of the route. Plan on at least five days for a one-way houseboat trip, as you'll want plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, to fish, and to explore the historic small towns that line the canal. When you grow tired of onboard life, hike or bike the Rideau Trail, which parallels the canal, or spend the night in a canal-side country inn.

Even in winter, the Rideau Canal is alive with activity. In the Ottawa area, the canal is swept of snow, transforming it into the world's longest ice-skating rink.


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