The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and was built after the War of 1812 as a means to supply Fort Henry in Kingston without having to use the St Lawrence River in case of another conflict. It runs from Ottawa to Kingston, over 200km, following the Rideau River, through Big and Little Rideau Lakes, and down to Kingston through more lakes. There are some remarkable engineering sites (see Jones Falls) and beautiful locks all along the system, but most people see only the section in central Ottawa.
There are boat tours available from downtown, pedalboat/canoe/kayak rentals from the pavilion on Dow's Lake, bike rentals for riding the bike paths on both sides, or you can simply sit and watch the boats go by. Watch the Pretoria Bridge lift the centre section vertically to allow boats to pass or enjoy a quiet walk along the water as an escape from the bustle of downtown. The staircase of locks below Plaza Bridge and down to the Ottawa River (7 locks) and Bytown Museum are among the most photographed sites in centretown, but if you get a chance to visit other lock sites along the Canal you'll find a great spot for a picnic. Be sure to stop and see the flower beds along Dow's Lake, filled with tens of thousands of tulips in the spring but other flowers over the summer. The canal becomes the Guinness Book of Records largest skating rink in the world ever winter, with over 7km of skating when the full length is open and with activities during Winterlude (winter festival).
If you own or manage Rideau Canal, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.