Province/Territory: Ontario

Be a voyageur for the day paddling the Rideau Canal Waterway

  • 202 km-long historic waterway
  • 34-foot voyageur canoe
  • 18 paddlers plus a costumed guide

Push off and dip your paddle below rippling waters. Today you're a voyageur navigating the famous Rideau Canal Waterway—a Canadian Heritage River and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your guide, dressed in full voyageur pantaloons, boots, chemise (shirt) and ceinture fleche (sash), regales your group with stories of the fur trade.

For the next hour-and-a half-long journey you'll discover significant wetlands, see heron, loon or painted turtle, your guide pointing out the local flaura and fauna. The sun is warm on your face as you progress down the river and learn the history and nature of the Rideau, its towns, villages, canal locks and secrets. En route, you'll find locals cheering you on. And if you prefer bikes to paddles, cycle the shores along a quiet secondary road. Be sure to bring along a shore-side picnic or end your journey with a feast at a local restaurant. Voyageurs lives are as legendary as their appetites!

Why you should visit
  • Absorb the local culture through the eyes of your passionate voyageur guide.
  • Learn fascinating canal history; built by the British, the Rideau Canal was officially opened in May, 1832.
  • Brag about visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Snap photos of wildlife, including herons, loons, and swans, en route.
  • Learn the history of North America’s oldest continuously operated canal system, comprising 45 locks, most of them still hand-operated.
  • Feast at a local pub, bed & breakfast, or inn along the Rideau Canal after your paddle. Shop, eat, or even listen to live music.
  • Combine your trip with guest speakers, a Rideau Canal Museum visit, or restaurant meals at additional cost.
  • If you prefer the road, rent bicycles to explore the Rideau Canal's quiet beauty. Try the 23.6-mile Jones Falls Loop.

Weather

  • Spring runs mid-March to mid-May in southern Ontario, with hot, humid summer temperatures arriving mid-May to mid-September. Fall arrives from mid-September to mid-November, bringing glorious fall colours and cooler temperatures. Expect snow and cold weather from mid-November to mid-March.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada’s Canadian Climate Normals Website.
Visitor information
  • Cost & Tour Departures.
  • Available daily between mid May and mid October.
  • Suitable for groups of all ages.
  • Trips last 1 and 1/2 hours but length of time can be negotiated.
  • 18 paddlers per canoe; smaller groups can inquire about other canoe rental options.
  • Contact operator to book tour date and departure point.
When to go
  • The busy Rideau Canal Waterway is popular with summer boaters, especially in July and August. Some of the best times to paddle are early summer evenings, when the river is calm and the hot temperatures diminish.
  • Canada Day (July 1st) brings a swell of boaters and musical celebrations to Ottawa, Canada's capital.
  • Early September brings cooler temperatures and you can paddle amid vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange as the fall trees turn colour in eastern Ontario.
Need to know
  • Wear sunscreen and/or a hat, and bring water.
  • Canoes equipped with personal floatation devices.
  • Paddling instruction and safety tips provided.
  • Trips take place rain or shine barring thunderstorms or high winds.
Getting Here
  • The Rideau Waterway connects Ottawa, on the Ottawa River, to Kingston Harbour on Lake Ontario.
  • Tours are offered anywhere along the Rideau where there is canoe launch access. You're free to book your trip to depart from any launch access point along the way from Ottawa to Kingston. You can launch in a quiet rural spot, off a small town dock, or from a nature park, right in the city.