The Rideau Canal (French: Canal Rideau), also known as the Rideau Waterway, connects the city of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on the Ottawa River to the city of Kingston, Ontario on Lake Ontario. The canal was opened in 1832 as a precaution in case of war with the United States and is still in use today, with most of its original structures intact. The canal system uses sections of major rivers, including the Rideau and the Cataraqui, as well as some lakes. It is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America, and in 2007, it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is operated today by Parks Canada as a recreational waterway. The locks on the system open for navigation in mid-May and close in mid-October.
The construction of the Rideau Canal was proposed shortly after the War of 1812, when there remained a persistent threat of attack by the United States on the British colony of Upper Canada. In this period, the British built a number of other canals (Grenville, Chute-à-Blondeau and Carillon Canals, all along the Ottawa River), as well as a number of forts (Citadel Hill, La Citadelle, and Fort Henry) to impede and deter any future American invasions of Canadian territory.
The initial purpose of the Rideau Canal was military, as it was intended to provide a secure supply and communications route between Montreal and the British naval base in Kingston, Ontario. Westward from Montreal, travel would proceed along the Ottawa River to Bytown (now Ottawa), then southwest via the canal to Kingston and out into Lake Ontario. The objective was to bypass the stretch of the St. Lawrence River bordering New York State; a route which would have left British supply ships vulnerable to an attack, or a blockade of the St. Lawrence.
The canal also served a commercial purpose. The Rideau Canal was easier to navigate than the St. Lawrence River, due to the series of rapids between Montreal and Kingston. As a result, the Rideau Canal became a busy commercial...
Date of inscription
Why it is a World Heritage Site
- Creative genius
- Human history