The Rideau Canal and its locks

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

At the heart of Ottawa

Built for military purposes, the Rideau Canal was completed in 1832.

A waterway that turns into a skating rink in the winter

More than 1,000 workers died during the construction of the Rideau Canal.

Overview of the Canal's elevation change in Ottawa

Eight locks are located only in Ottawa.

A 202 km long Canal with many locks

This human-built stream is 202 km long and features 45 locks along its route!

A majestic piece of architecture

The Canal itself is a monumental work. It was inspired by the European technology of the time.

Visit of the Bytown Museum

The Bytown Museum is located next to Locks between Parliament Hill and the Chateau Laurier Hotel. This museum is a must-see for those interested in learning more about the city's history.


The Museum's specific mandate is to collect, study, preserve, and make public the tangible and intangible, cultural and multicultural heritage of the Ottawa region. At the Bytown Museum, you will find permanent, temporary, and community exhibitions.

The 31 Founders

In fact, it was 31 'ladies of the city' who formed the Women's Canadian Historical Society of Ottawa (WCHSO) in June 1898, to “promote the collection and preservation of Canadian historical materials to encourage Canadian loyalty and patriotism.”

In 1948, the WCHSO acquired the old police station building near the Ottawa Locks and, after extensive renovations, moved there permanently, then opened its doors to the public in 1952.

In 1956, this association accepted men and became the Historical Society of Ottawa (HSO). Later renamed the Bytown Museum, the association tells the story of the city from its inception, including its first inhabitants, to Ottawa, the capital of Canada as we know it today.

Text version of the audio

Nowadays, the famous Rideau Canal is a very popular place in winter for the skating rink.

The Rideau Canal is a waterway that links Kingston, a city located some 200 km south in the Province of Ontario, to Ottawa, the Capital of Canada.

It was when Samuel de Champlain saw these falls that are 9 metres high, that he had the idea in 1613 to call this river “Rideau”, where Rideau River flows into the Ottawa River, just like a curtain whose French translation is “rideau”.

The Rideau Canal was built between 1826 and 1832 under Colonel John By's supervision (the same as the Byward Market) at a time when Great Britain, Canada's motherland, and the United States were in conflict.

The War of 1812 had brought to light the absolute necessity for Canada to have a secure axis for the supply of its cities, and especially, to move away from the border of the State of New York in the United States. The Rideau Canal was built for military purposes to allow supplies and communications between the cities of Montreal, Québec, and Kingston.

More than 1,000 workers died during the construction of the canal. Malaria and accidents took their toll on these workers, immigrants from Ireland, Asia, and Europe, but also from the First Nations. They were then buried along the banks.

In 1832, the Rideau Canal was completed, and no further conflict arose between the United States and Canada.

This majestic piece of architecture is 202 km long and features 45 locks along its route between Ottawa and Kingston. Eight locks are located in Ottawa.

This canal, built entirely of stone, was classified in 2007 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It represents a masterpiece of creativity and ingenuity. It is also the best-preserved example of a water canal in North America and a testament to the large-scale use of this European technology in North America.

Take time to stroll along the banks of the Canal, by bike, on foot, or even on the water in a canoe. You'll discover Ottawa from a majestic, romantic, and tranquil perspective.

A true break… from time.

Extract of
Self-Guided Tour of the Byward Market History & Ottawa Must-See Places

Self-Guided Tour of the Byward Market History & Ottawa Must-See Places image circuit

Presented by : Société économique de l’Ontario

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