July 10, 2013

Day 257 - July 9, 2013: Ottawa, Ontario, and the Rideau Canal

More time for luxury at Montebello would have been welcomed, but we needed to motor on up the Ottawa River towards Ottawa, Ontario. For the first time, I am seeing private float planes, and these wide sections of the river, surrounded by vast open stretches of farmland, are well suited for this mode of transportation.

Maize and Blue fan?

Commuters gone to work?




By noon, the Ottawa skyline appeared and it was very apparent that this is not only the capital of Canada, but a major metropolitan city. Right in the heart of downtown, the Rideau River comes from the south, tumbling down over falls and into the Ottawa River. To gain access to the Rideau River by boat, we had to enter the Rideau Canal and, aided by an unusual flight of 8 stair-step locks, were raised up 79 feet to the height of the river (213 feet above sea level). 

The Rideau River Falls
The Rideau Canal flight of 8 locks from the Ottawa River
Since each of the locks in the flight is filled by emptying the one above it (which then needed to be refilled by the one above it and so forth), the entire sequence took over 2 hours, plus we waited 1 1/2 hours to begin. It was a bit tiring as the sun was out, the temperature was 85, and it was very humid. These locks, finished in 1831, are entirely manually operated using the original equipment to this day. Canal personnel hand crank both the doors and the gates open and closed. 

Anne holding the line
View from the 8th lock at the top






Once on top of the flight, we motored under a bridge, passed the Fairmont Hotel, and tied up across from Le Cafe which has free internet which we could use. Anne loves big cities, and she said the idea that you can cruise your boat into the middle of Ottawa, get out and start touring is just fantastic! Plus, our docking fee is probably 1/5 of the cost of a room at the Fairmont. 

Rideau Canal flight of 8 from the top
Great Laker docked in the Rideau Canal
After a quick walk around the area to get our bearings, we did our obligatory stop at the visitor center gathering a dozen or so pamphlets covering the city and canal, and then walked to the ByWard Market area and found a place for a sushi dinner. 

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