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“interesting all four seasons”
Review of Ottawa Locks

Ottawa Locks
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Ottawa Highlights Half-Day Bike Tour
Ranked #12 of 256 things to do in Ottawa
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Owner description: In use since 1832, these locks link the Ottawa River with the Rideau Canal and are still operated by hand.
Saskatoon, Canada
Level Contributor
159 reviews
91 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
“interesting all four seasons”
Reviewed January 16, 2014

Especially cool when a boat is going through (summer only). Don't miss the little museum half way down, small fee. If you jog, this is a good place to join the river trails.

Visited October 2013
1 Thank RESK2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
53 reviews
49 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 88 helpful votes
“The Essence of Ottawa”
Reviewed January 7, 2014

The locks of the Rideau Canal and indeed the entire canal are pivotal to understanding the development of early Canada and the creation of By-Town which would in turn become Ottawa and our Nation's Capital.

Built between 1826 and 1832 by Colonel John By and the Royal Engineers and using Irish labourers, the canal is a marvel of engineering. Designed to connect Kingston to Montreal in a defensible way, after the then recent War of 1812, it was the largest engineering project on the North American continent in its time.

To be able to stand at any one of its 47 locks and see them in operation still leaves me with a sense of pride and wonderment. From the simple mechanisms to the solid wrought iron work and stone masonary each lock is a tribute to its builders.

The entire length is a little over 120 miles. If you are in downtown Ottawa the best place to see the locks is between the Chateau Laurier and the East Block. You descend some steps in the stone wall on the north side Wellington Street and Confederation square and walk down to the Ottawa river and gaze back up along the locks. The stonework is impressive while the wood and iron mechanisms are simple and still perfectly functional after almost 200 years !

If you are out visiting Carleton University you can walk across the roadway behind the Arts Tower and see a set of locks in a rural setting. If you have a car, my favourite site is to travel down to Burritts Rapids and see the locks in a typical small village.

Driving from Kingston to Ottawa or the reverse, a distance comparable to that from the Golan Heights to Eilat in Israel, one can follow the highway system which runs along the length of the canal. Here the frequent glimpses of the canal waterway will give you a sense of how a series of disparate bodies of water were joined together to create the canal.

One marvel is the Jones' Falls dam which was one of the first and the largest arched dams to be built in North America. Many workers died while working on the canal and their graves and monuments are to be found along its length. A sombre reminder of the price our ancesters paid for our safety.

Swamps were drained, malaria contracted, dams constructed and blockhouses built. All the while managing staff, developing communities and dealing with a far removed bureaucracy. The Royal Engineers were paid in Pounds Sterling while the labourers were paid in US dollars. The coins of the later being shipped up to Canada from the US in wooden barrels.

The Rideau stone farm houses visible at various points were simple cottages built by early settlers/workman and nicely compliment the canal. In Ottawa, the then By-Town, lands were laid out for a community complete with churches and municipal government buildings.

Colonel By also had the foresight to build the canal wider than planned as he thought it might someday be useful for commerce not solely the military transport for which it was then planned. Instead of being honoured for his accomplishment, By was questioned back in London over his expenses.

His grave and memorial in Frant, Sussex are a pilgimage site for many Canadian Egineers who are humbled by the memory of his civil engineering masterpiece back home.

Along with the names of Cabot, Champlain, Radisson, Wolfe, Montcalm, Brock, Fraser and Mackenzie the name of John By conjours up feelings as to what it means to be a Canadian.

Visited October 2013
2 Thank Yonatan C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
217 reviews
82 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 115 helpful votes
“Stunning. Views even in winter”
Reviewed January 3, 2014 via mobile

Although the locks are emptied for the cold winter it's an awesome sight & well worth a visit, especially if you combine it with the national parliament building next door

Thank noahoxford1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alnwick, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
28 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Rideau-Canal No 5”
Reviewed December 9, 2013

The Rideau Canal, is an essential part of Ottawa. From the 40's and 50's, in winter time, there has been skating, dog sled racing, winter shenanigans, fun and beauty, all within shouting distance of one of the fairest of city centres in the world. The locks are kept beautifully, and it is safe if you have any common sense. I returned to Ottawa after over 60 years away, and have been delighted with some of the old things that are still preserved and in use. The museum shows a bloody good history of the area, very good staff there, and I was proud to be part of the history. A loverly visit to my childhood past.

Visited October 2013
Thank Pete B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
205 reviews
67 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 221 helpful votes
“Shame they were empty”
Reviewed November 12, 2013

The locks here are excellent and step down very nicely. It was a shame that they were all nearly empty on my visit with just one boat secured on the the second or third tier. Good photo opportunity and on a warm summers day im sure this would be a better time to visit.

Visited October 2013
Thank SwissTonyPortsmouth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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