The Rideau Canal National Historic Site is owned and operated by Parks Canada. The Historic Canals Policy Objective is to foster appreciation, enjoyment and understanding of Canada’s historic canals by providing for navigation; by managing cultural and natural resources for purposes of protection and presentation; and by encouraging appropriate uses. Parks Canada has the responsibility to provide leadership and stewardship in protecting and presenting heritage areas of national significance. This means managing heritage areas under its jurisdiction to the highest standards and assisting and cooperating with others to protect and present other heritage areas of national significance.

All three levels of government – federal, provincial and municipal – have a role in protecting the heritage character of the Canal and ensuring optimum recreational use. The federal-provincial agreement to designate the Rideau as a Canadian Heritage River is a recent example of how the governments of Canada and Ontario and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority worked together to protect the Canal environment.

Rideau Canal Office

34 Beckwith Street South
Smiths Falls, Ontario


May – October (Thanksgiving)

Hours: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm


October – April

Hours: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm – by appointment only


613-283-5170, 1-888-773-8888

Visit Parks Canada's Rideau Canal Website

Learn More


To enter the national parks or historic site visitors must pay a fee. The fees collected and are kept to support visitor services and facilities. For a full fee list for camping, lockage, mooring, parking, and more please see Parks Canada website here:



What is the Rideau Canal?

Spanning from Ottawa – Canada’s vibrant and spirited national capital, down to Kingston – the limestone city, the Rideau Canal is known as one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century and is celebrated as the best-preserved slack water canal system in the country.

The Canal has been designated as Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site and a “work of creative genius” in 2007. A sprawling 202km in length with 24 unique lockstations, the Canal is home to countless attractions and experiences.

Who operates the Rideau Canal?

In 1972 Parks Canada acquired the Rideau Canal to sustain its recreational operation.

Water-Based Activities

When is the Rideau Canal open for boating?

The locks operate from mid-May to mid-October. See the brochure provided by Parks Canada on 2019 Hours and Services.

Can I rent a boat?

Yes, there are several options for boat rentals along the Rideau Canal. Please visit Rideau-Info for a full listing here.

Can I rent a canoe/kayak?

Yes, there are several options for renting both canoes and kayaks. Please visit Rideau-Info for a full listing here.

Can I swim in the Rideau Canal?

Yes, visitors can enjoy swimming in the Rideau Canal. There are several public beaches along the canal for you to enjoy. Swimming is not allowed in the immediate vicinity of any lock as well in the Ottawa section of the canal between Hogs Back and the Ottawa Locks.

Land-Based Activities

Where is the best place to camp?

Tenting is allowed at most lock stations. See Parks Canada for a listing of exceptions and for more details. There are a number of great campgrounds along the Rideau Canal. Please visit our Accommodations page for more information.

What non-camping accommodations are available?

There are several hotels, cottages, bed & breakfasts, and more available along the Rideau Canal. Please visit our Accommodations page for more information.

What restaurants are available along the Rideau Canal?

From gorgeous patios and laid back pubs to modern restaurants offering casual food fare or fine dining, the Rideau Canal has something for everyone. Please visit our Eat & Drink page for more information.

What types of activities can my family enjoy on-land along the Canal?

Please visit our What to Do page for an overview of activities and attractions along the Rideau Canal.


Can I skate on the Rideau Canal?

Every winter the Rideau Canal transforms into the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink. Welcoming nearly one million visitors each year (a daily average of 20,000 visitors), the skateway is 7.8 km long stretching from Ottawa downtown to Dows Lake.

When is the Canal transformed into a skating rink?

The Rideau Canal Skateway is available (weather dependent) from January to late February/early March.

What hours can I access the skating rink and is there a cost?

The skating rink is open (weather permitting) 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. There is no cost for using the rink.

Where can I rent skates?

In Ottawa, you may rent a pair of skates or sleighs from Capital Skates on the Skateway near the National Arts Centre or at Fifth Avenue. On the opposite end of the Canal, visit the Dows Lake pavilion for rentals.

What is the Winterlude Festival?

Created in 1979, Winterlude is a celebration of Canada’s unique northern culture and climate. Festival activities include (but are not limited to) ice skating, culture and live music shows along the Rideau Canal Skateway, ice sculpture competitions at Confederation Park, and skating and games for children at Jacques-Cartier Park. For more information, click here.