History surrounds us, whether I’m in Ottawa or in the 1000 Islands. That is the recurring theme of this trip and I’m pleasantly surprised by how excited I get when I learn a bit more of our rich Canadian history. A great example of history surrounding me is the Rideau Canal. Stretching for 202 km with 47 lockstations it connects Ottawa to Kingston and was built both for commerce and to aid in the defence of Canada should the USA invade. What’s even cooler is that it is still in operation today!
Jones Falls is about a 15 minute drive from downtown Gananoque and it was a perfect excursion for Cody and I as we had a few hours to kill before another scheduled adventure. I put on my walking shoes and away we go.
I’m excited to see a lock up close and personal because to date I’ve only seen them on British TV dramas. I did walk over the beginning of the Rideau Canal in my first couple of days in Ottawa but this is different. Jones Falls is just about the canal and the lockstation and I can get close enough to touch. Who knows maybe I’ll get to see it in action.
We arrive to see a lovely little park and a small lake. At one end are these large doors reminiscent of a medieval castle.
There is a little trail for us to follow up to the lockstation so off we go. It’s an easy walk and when we reach the top we discover what’s behind the massive doors. Thousands of gallons of water.
In principal I know how locks work, but to see it in person makes you marvel at the manpower needed in 1826 to construct the Rideau Canal. According to all I’ve read almost all of the original Canal is still in place and in use.
- A boat comes to the top of the lock and wants to go to the downstream side.
- The gates on the upstream side of the lock can easily be swung open because the water inside the lock is the same elevation as the water on the downstream side. So the lock staff turn the cranks that open the gates to let the boat in.
- The boat floats into the lock
- Now the upper gate is closed.
- Valves are opened on the downstream side of the lock which lets water out of the lock.
- As the water drains, the boat floats down.
- When the water in the lock matches the water level of the downstream water, the gates can be opened and the boat can move out.
Cody and I walk up to the next lock where we hear the roar of water flowing. Bingo, a boat is in the lock!
Apparently we had just missed the final steps as the boat had just docked at the top. Darn, but still pretty exciting in my books.
I think it would be cool to to take a few days to travel the Rideau Canal by boat. Casually cruising the canal, hearing the birds chirp and watching the water flow through your fingertips as they drape over the side… Ok I know one too many harlequin romance novels but just thinking about this adventure makes my blood pressure calm down.
Looking back towards where we started you can really get the sense of the height and the engineering marvel to “lift” a boat.
Coming from the West Coast of Canada our history is different than what you can experience in Central and Eastern Canada. That is part of what makes Canada such an amazing and unique country. The Rideau Canal is definitely a must visit experience and if you are lucky enough to visit some of the smaller lockstations like Jones Falls in Gananoque then you should do it!
The Rideau Canal has been recognized as both a National Historic Site of Canada and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Well deserved I say and my 30 Days In Ottawa wouldn’t have been completer if I didn’t get to see it up close and personal.