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 link to Parks Canada 2021 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.

Rideau Ferry Yacht Club Conservation Area on Lower Rideau Lake claims to have the best beach on the Rideau. It features a sandy beach, picnic area, and boat launch, and other amenities like washrooms, a change house, a picnic shelter. Maintained by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority this public beach, boat launch, and picnic area is a popular summer hang-out. Kendrick’s Park near Lyndhurst on Lower Beverley Lake also boasts a superb spot for a family day in the sun near the Rideau system for a family day in the sun with lots of amenities, as does Westport’s Lions Club Beach on Sand Lake.

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. Additional, experience a holiday vacation like never before along the waterway at 3 historic lockmaster or canalman’s properties that Parks Canada has refurbished and rents.

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.

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

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