On my recent solo trip to Ottawa I visited the Ottawa Locks on the Rideau Canal – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A series of eight locks allow boats to travel between the Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal with a total lift of 79 feet. Located between Parliament Hill and the Chateau Laurier Hotel the Ottawa Locks are an interesting attraction. The locks are part of the Rideau Canal – the longest continuously operated canal system in North America.
My first full day in Ottawa I walked past the locks while in search of food and beer after taking in a free tour at Parliament Hill. I made a point to visit again when I walked from Wellington West neighborhood to Dows Lake and along the Rideau Canal to finish up at the Ottawa Locks. It was a wonderful walk.
Open from mid-May to mid-October the Ottawa Locks are still operated by hand, just as they were when operations began in 1832. The construction of the Rideau Canal was a result of the War of 1812. During the war the Saint Lawrence River was in jeopardy of being used by the United States to invade Canada. Of course at that time it was a British colony known as Upper Canada and things were a lot different then – no Tim Horton’s coffee shops for instance.
The northern entrance to the Rideau Canal is the Ottawa River and boats can travel 202 km all the way to the shores of Lake Ontario and Kingston – the former national capital of the Province of Canada. The Province of Canada? Apparently another war brought about the desire to combine Upper Canada and Lower Canada under the unified name Province of Canada. Okay I didn’t know that until now and I’m Canadian so do not feel bad if you had no idea either.
The Ottawa Locks is the largest flight of locks on the Rideau Canal. It takes around 1.5 hours for a vessel to lock through all eight locks.
It takes an average of 1.3 million litres of water for each lock lift, approximately 10 feet.
I didn’t realize it at first but when the lock gate is closed one can walk across the top of the lock gate to the other side of the canal. Or just stand atop the gate and watch the water fill the lock chamber.
I walked down to the end of the 8 locks and enjoyed a great view of the Ottawa River. Gatineau Quebec is just across the river. Before my trip to Ottawa I had envisioned walking across the bridge to Gatineau but I never got around to it on this trip.
Ottawa Locks on the Rideau Canal UNESCO World Heritage Site is definitely worth a visit.
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Address: 3 Canal Lane, Ottawa
Phone Number: +1-(613)-283-5170
Hours: Hours change depending on season. Summer hours: Monday – Thursday 9AM – 6PM; Friday – Sunday 9AM -7PM
Admission Cost: FREE