The next part of our adventure was about to begin. The Rideau Canal was waiting! I have been intrigued by the thought of this part of the trip since before we started. The canal is the oldest continually operating canal in North America. It was built by Canada in the 1830’s because Americans were invading from the south through the St. Lawrence Seaway. The French and British were concerned that they had no way to get the supplies needed to fight off the Americans, so they built the canal as a means of transportation. The locks have mostly remained unchanged from the time they were built, including their method of operation. The canal ends in Ottawa, and the wall where we will tie up is in the middle of downtown. In the winter, the canal freezes and claims to be the world’s largest skating rink. All we needed to start was to meet our friend Alex and his two grandchildren, Sasha and Harris on August 3rd.
Sailing ship along the way
Our first sight of Kingston
Opening the bridge for us to pass through in Kingston
The marina where we stayed builds fire boats. John got a tour of one.
We spent the night of August 1st in Trenton and were treated to a beautiful moon. The next day, we took an enjoyable ride from the Trenton marina to the Prinyer’s Cove anchorage where we spent our first night in Canada back in June. The weather was questionable on the morning of the 3rd, but, after careful consideration, we decided to get started and head out to Kingston. We arrived a little after noon and Alex and kids came soon after. A quick provisioning trip and a great dinner out left us all tired out and ready to relax for the night.
Sasha and her math packet.
Boats in the lock waiting to be lowered
Little plants in the lock walls
Our first meeting with Red Owl. We have enjoyed spending time with Dave, its owner, along the way.
A scene from The Birds???
Peaceful scenes along the way.
Everyone was excited to get started Tuesday morning, but we lost a couple of hours downloading the navigational charts of the Rideau that we had asked Alex to pick up along the way. Although the charts are electronic and you would think a download would be easy, Canada has some very strong regulations that make this a difficult task at times. After a lot of time lost, a lot of money spent using data, and a lot of time on a phone call to a very nice man in Newfoundland, we were finally ready to get started. Sasha worked on some summer homework while we sat on the bow and, of course, I was thrilled it was a Math packet. Maybe it’s not completely After Math after all!
Sasha and Harris started fishing right away.
The start of the canal was beautiful and the very first lock was gorgeous. Lots of the locks along the canal are multiple ones and the first was four locks in immediate succession. Alex was introduced to locking in Canada quickly and took over the bow duty for John while I remained in the stern. We tied up along the wall at Lock 45, Lower Brewer’s Lock, for the night and cooked aboard. Following the Daigle tradition of a long time at the dinner table, we sat, got to know Sasha and Harris a little better, reminisced with Alex, and had a great evening.
Scenery along the way.
Kids everywhere love to jump from the rocks
Fun umbrellas on the lock wall.
The Kawartha Voyager getting ready to enter the lock.
The bow, which is a patio normally, rises to of let the ship fit in the small locks on the Rideau
Ready to enter.
Jones Falls is a historic site. This picture was from the original dockmaster’s house looking down on AfterMath.
The following morning we got a little bit earlier start and had a beautiful ride to Jones Falls. When we arrived we were told that the river cruise boat, the Kawartha Voyager, would be coming the other way through the series of four locks. The lock was full of boats going up, so, if we had to wait for the Voyager to descend, we would have been stuck waiting for two hours before we could go through. In a strange stroke of luck, we would have had to wait on the dock that the cruise ship needed to dock, so the lockmaster agreed to have us lock through on the step behind the boats that were ahead of us. We were especially happy to be at the top of the system before the Voyager because John had met the captain of that ship in Orillia several weeks earlier. There he learned that, because the boat was too large for the locks on the Rideau, the bow folded up to fit in. In was great fun to be able to watch the process! At this lock there is a nice trail that passes the historic buildings and brings walkers to an old, European style restaurant where we had a delicious dinner.
A peaceful morning.
Lot of people gather at the parks at the locks to watch the boats pass through
A busy day at the locks.
Is it a house boat?
Sasha spent hours grooming Kirby who sat next to her and ate up the attention. Kirby is now tangle free!
Dave, my interesting person for this post.
Dave’s Ranger Tug, Red Owl
August 6th we traveled to Smith’s Falls. and there we met Dave, who we found to be such a fun and interesting man. Therefore, Dave is my “Interesting Person” of the week. Dave, we found out, lived just a mile or two from us in Bradenton. He towed his little Ranger Tug up to Canada and then began the Rideau Canal. We had a great conversation with him and he joined us for dinner. I won’t go into all of his stories, but let’s just suffice it to say that we hope he and Shirley have a great time in Maine this fall.
On our way to Merrickville
Merrickville. Settled in the early 1700s.
Friday brought us to Merrickville. I really loved this little town, which has multiple restaurants, great little shops and pubs, a fun gourmet shop, and even a little carnival the weekend we were there. There are ruins of buildings from the 1700s that are amazingly preserved and the town pre-dates the Rideau Canal by at least 100 years. I can’t wait to get back to Merrickville on the return trip when I will have more time to do some exploring.
The ruins in Merrickville
Traveling to Burritt’s Rapids
In the town
The lock bridge
Kirby was spoiled rotten by Sasha the whole trip
Saturday, after a little more exploration in Merrickville, we made it to a lovely lock wall in Burritt’s Rapids. There, Sasha and I took Kirby for a walk to the town, which did not seem to have one single business. The dock, though, was peaceful and bug-free. (People, by the way, who think Florida has bugs should spend a weekend in Canada. We almost never saw mosquitos or bugs in Florida, but Canada seems to have a monopoly on the creatures!) We found a nice little restaurant with an outdoor patio and enjoyed a fun dinner where we again ran into Dave and another couple boating on the canal along with us.
Sharing the water with the airplanes
And Jake got his share of attention too.
Yesterday we made it to Lock 13 on the Rideau, Black Rapids Creek, a peaceful dockage and the last we made on the northbound route before reaching Ottawa. We made a great pasta dinner, which we ate at a picnic table along the wall.
Our first looks at Ottawa
We arrived in Ottawa around 1:00 this afternoon and are all excited about spending time here. Alex and the kids chose to move to a hotel for their stay – probably something to do with lack of Wi-Fi for teens and pre-teens, as well as allowing us to prepare for our next guests – but we will see each other a couple more days. There will be the changing of the guard at Parliament Hill, light shows at night, a large marketplace and many other attractions. Chris and Sam will arrive on Wednesday when Alex will meet them at our boat. He will then drive their car back to Kingston and leave it at the marina for when we finish the return trip on the Rideau. It’s been a great trip so far! It’s hard to believe we will soon be ready to leave our neighbors to the north.
Here is where we are tonight.