Canada Day

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Eric here catching you up to date on the travels of Still Waters II.

This week the crew has been travelling the Rideau Canal between Ottawa and Kingston, Ontario.  Click on the Travel Map above or this link to see the day-by-day travel log.

Still Waters II on the blue line waiting to enter the canal


But first a little history lesson on the Rideau Canal.

The Canal has had three periods of usage.  The canal was initially built to be used by the military to move troops and supplies further away from the American border along the St Lawrence River following the War of 1812.   The canal was started in 1827 and opened in 1832.

The canal was never used for its designed purpose, but caused an economic boom to the towns up and down the canal as freight was shipped using the canal.  As railroads began to dominate the shipping business the canal freight business peaked around 1860.  However, the canal continued to be used for commercial purposes into the 1920’s.

The canal in now used mainly by pleasure boat craft who make the 125 mile run from Kingston to Ottawa.  From Kingston, 14 locks are used to raise the pleasure craft 165 feet.  Then 31 locks are used to lower the pleasure craft 275 feet into the Ottawa River.  However, our cruise director is taking us in the opposite direction, so we will be cruising from Ottawa to Kingston.  These left handed cruise directors seem to do everything backwards.

Most of the locks still use manual labor to operate the gates and valves to move the water and boaters thru the system.  Parks Canada uses lots of college students on summer break to crank the gates.  The cranks are actually called crabs by the locals up here.

Calm evening on The Pond


Fun Facts about the Rideau Canal:

  • The amount of water in an average Rideau Canal lift is 343,424 gallons.  So if you wanted to drink a lock dry you would need to drink 5.5 million cups of water.
  • The gates for the locks are made of Douglass Fir at the canal shops in Smith Falls.  The gates last about 20 years before they need to be replaced.
  • The born on date of the gate is stamped into the gate near the top.
  • There are 45 locks along the Rideau Canal.
  • The highest lock lift is 26 feet at Smith Falls.
  • The lowest lock lift is 2 feet in Kilmarnock.
  • A Rideau Canal lock chamber is 134 feet long and 33 feet wide.
  • Along the 125 mile canal there are 292 islands and 675 miles of shoreline.
  • In 2007 the Canal was named a World Heritage Site.

There is also a website for the Rideau Canal for those that might be interested in more information on this section of the adventure.

Now onto the travels of Still Waters II as she negotiates the Rideau Canal.

Sunday, June 26, the crew left Hull Marina in Quebec and crossed the Ottawa River to get on the blue line at 0845 and signal the lockmaster that the crew was ready to take the flight of 8 step locks up into the Rideau Canal.

Lock Partners

Moored in Ottawa
On the gray line in Ottawa

The canal opens at 0900, and shortly after a large number of Parks Canada college kids showed up and started getting the first lock ready for entry.  The crew entered the first lock shortly after 0900 and began the journey up with a sailboat.  This was exhausting and fun for the crew.  They made the 8 locks in about two hours.  Along the way up, crowds formed, took pictures, and chatted the crew up about where they were from and how did they get here from Florida.



After clearing the last lock, the skipper noticed Avocet moored along the lock wall.  The crew of Avocet waved and then pointed the crew to a good spot to tie up and assisted in getting Still Waters II safely moored along the wall.  One of the many pleasures of looping is leap frogging other loopers and then catching up telling sea stories with them once the crews land in the same port.  And so it was with the crews of Avocet and Still Waters II.  The crew of Avocet had heard of the border crossing horror story and wanted to hear the first-hand account.

Later in the day, Miss My Money, showed up and parked directly behind Still Waters II.  The two crews enjoyed the evening listening to a Jazz Concert and the stories of an Ottawa police officer that was also moored along the wall.

Monday, the crew went to the 1000 Changing of the Guard Ceremony on Parliament Hill.

After the ceremony concluded, the skipper went and found a Canadian Flag to fly from the bow.  Hard to believe that a Canadian Burgee could not be found in the capital of Canada.  The skipper did buy a Canadian flag, modified the flag to fly from the bow flag pole, and mounted the flag.

Leaving Ottawa


The crew decided to leave Ottawa ahead of the forced exit on Tuesday morning.  Seems the American President is coming to town and all the boats have to be off of the lock wall by 0700 Tuesday morning.  This will be a little difficult because a bridge just down a half mile will not open till 0900.  But the skipper is sure the authorities will have the area cleared shortly after 0900.  When the crew left at 1300, only six boats were still downtown.

The crew only went 14 miles but had to clear 5 locks.

View from the blue line.


Mile 4.2, The first locks were at Hartwells lockstation with a step of two locks with a total lift of 21.5 feet.






Mile 5.2, The next set of locks were at Hogs Back lockstation.  This was a flight of two locks also for a total lift of 14.5 feet. As you can see in the pic, the second gate is already open as the crew leaves the first lock.  Also notice the swing bridge opening.



Long Island


Mile 9.3, Lock 13 at Black Rapids lockstation had a total lift of 9.2 feet.

Mile 14.5, The crew motored on to the Long Island lockstation but stopped below the lock for the evening.  The setting is a tranquil park with the lock providing a constant water fall over the gate.  No other boaters are at this lock tonight so the crew has the place all to themselves.

Tuesday, After one vessel locked down the crew entered lock 14 for a three step flight that would raise Still Waters II 25 feet.  The three locks took about an hour to clear.  The crew continues to refine their skill at locking, making a couple of more changes today.

Close Quarters in the L


The locks are still physically demanding, but are getting easier as the technique improves.  There were two other boats in the lock also this morning.  This makes for some close quarters inside the lock.  Not much room for error.




Mile 15-40, After clearing the locks, the crew headed south to a place called Burritt’s Rapids.  The name is for the rapids that the lock was meant to bypass to make the river navigable.  The posted speed limit in most of this section is 10 km/ hr or 6 mph.  This made for a slow go today as the crew headed 25 miles south.


Mile 40, The crew arrived and docked below the lock 17.  There is a 200 foot floating dock here with a small picnic ground.  Best of all there is hydro, or electricity as we call it in the good old USA.

The crew will spend two nights here before making the next jump down river.


Wednesday, The crew spent the day relaxing and watching other boaters lock through.  The skipper did take a 4 mile hike along the Point-to-Point Trail.  While hiking, he ran into two young men who were hiking the Rideau Trail from Ottawa to Kingston.  The trail runs along the length of the canal.  The young men were setting up camp and stopping at Burritt’s Rapids for the day.  Also, the skipper found a geocache full of trinkets in front of this purple house.

In the afternoon, the crew moved the boat through lock 17 so they could leave at 0900 in the morning without having to delay getting through the lock.

Thursday, The crew shoved off from the Lock 17 upper wall and left with three other boats.

Passing thru swing bridge


Parks Canada had a swing Bridge they had to open 0.5 miles down river to allow the four boats to continue.  The employees opened the bridge just after 0900 after starting work.





Mile 43.1, the four boats arrived at Lower Nicholsons lockstation, cleared Lock 18, with a 6.5 foot lift.  Once you clear Lock 18 the crew had to also clear Locks 19/20.  Boats are not allowed to stop in between these locks.

Exiting Clowes Lock


Mile 43.3, Upper Nicholsons lockstation (19) provided a lift of 8 feet.

Mile 43.8, Clowes lockstation (20) provided a 7.6 foot lift.





Mile 46, Arrived at the Merrickville lockstation, locks 21-23 provide a lift of 24.7 feet.  After exiting lock 23 the crew went around a point and docked along a wall in Merrickville.

Locking thru at Merrickville


After docking the skipper noted that there was no more room for a boat their size along the wall.  It was a good thing they moved up lock 17 yesterday to be in a position to leave at 0900.  A boat that stayed down at Lock 17 had to continue past Lock 23 because there was no more room at 23.

The crew has decided to spend two days here and celebrate Canada Day in Merrickville.



Friday, July 1, 2016, Today is Canada Day.  The locals are putting on a big parade at 1130 and then celebrating at the park here at the lock all afternoon.

The day will end with a fireworks display over the Rideau Canal.  The crew had been warned that they needed to sit tight on Canada Day because the Canadians can throw a good party.  They were told to get somewhere and sit tight.

Merrickville Artist


The best part of Canada Day was that the fudge factory was selling 1.5 lbs of fudge for the price of one pound.  The skipper reports that it is some mighty fine fudge indeed.  Some of his favorite candies made into the fudge, skor, butterfingers, and reese’s peanut butter cups.  How can you go wrong with that.

This little town known as Merrickville has an interesting link to the Rideau Canal.  William Merrick Sr. arrived in the area from Springfield, Massachusetts in 1793.  He received a 200 acre land grant for his loyalty and good character.  He built a dam across the Rideau River and built a grist, saw, and carding mills harnessing the waterpower.  A small community grew up around the mills and became known as Merrick’s Mills.

Ruins of the old mills


During the canal construction in 1826, the community was 300 strong and selected as one of the places for a lock.  In 1831, when this section of the canal was ready to be opened, William Merrick decided to dam the Rideau River to make repairs to his mills.  This caused low water levels downstream and prevented opening the canal.  Soon after, a new law was introduced that prevented unauthorized changes to the waterway.  Go figure.


Saturday, the weather was very windy so the initial plan was to sit tight one more day and continue towards Kingston on Sunday.  However, there are some guests arriving sometime today.  The guests flew into Toronto and are taking a train to Smiths Falls.  To help them meet up with the boat, the crew decided to motor on up to Smiths Falls.

The run was only 14 miles and the crew caught all three lock stations perfectly so there was no waiting on the lock.

Guys riding electronic bridge while the girls crank the crab to open the gate, hmmm


Mile 54, the Kilmarnock lockstation raised the boat 2 feet in one lift.

Mile 57.6, the Edmonds lockstation lifted the boat 9 feet in one lift.

Mile 59.3, Old Slys Lockstation lifted the boat 16 feet in two lifts.

Mile 60.2, Smiths Falls lockstation lifted the boat 26 feet in one lift.  This lock is now numbered 29a and replaced three locks that are still visible.

Hanging at Lock 29a waiting for guests to arrive.


Come back next week to catch up on the unfolding adventure aboard Still Waters II as the crew and guests continue south on the Rideau Canal to Kingston.

The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends……….

Eric the Red

2 Comments on “Canada Day

  1. We are currently at the Narrows Lock. It is a three foot lift and the highest point on the Rideau Canal. We will cross a lake and when we get to the south side of the lake we will be begin locking down as we progress towards Kingston.

    The fireworks were amazingly good for a small town. They were delayed about an hour due to weather. Then without notice we heard one go bang. Looked out the boat and saw the big red ball. Watched the rest of the show from the comfort of the boat. We were less than a quarter mile from where they were shooting them up into the air. Front row seats.


  2. So are you always going higher as you progress through the locks? How were the fireworks?


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