The Rideau Canal
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Ottawa to Kingston, Ontario, Canada
History and Genealogy



New September 23, 2021:


(Hartwells is pretty much invisible on this picture).
Source: The Rideau, A Pictorial History of the Waterway, edited by Adrian Ten Cate, 1981,
ISBN 0-92032-04-04, page 7. 
 
ridcanal diagram showing Hartwells and Carleton University






More to come for this page tomorrow! May, 2021: Picture Source: The Rideau: A Pictorial History of the Waterway, Edited by Adrian G. Ten Cate, Besancourt Publishers, ISBN 0-920032-04-4, 1981, page 119. Here is a drawing of the best-known tug boat which operated on the Rideau Canal from it's construction in 1907. Anyone who grew up in Ottawa is familiar with this boat - we knew it from the Rideau Canal within the City of Ottawa, or on many of the local waterways within 100 miles of Ottawa. I remember seeing it beginning in the 1950's on the Canal at O'Connor Street, at my uncles' cottage at Burritts Rapids and Merrickville, at Fitzroy Harbour and Quyon on the Ottawa River to the west of Ottawa and on the Big Rideau Lake when I had the bug to troll for Lake Trout. Keywords: Polson Iron Works
ridcanal diagram of the Tug Boat Loretta, built in 1907

May 20, 2021: Picture Source: From War to Winterlude, 150 Years on the Rideau Canal, By Mary E. Peck, ISBN 0-660-51015-4, 1982, Front Cover.
The Headlocks from the Ottawa River in 1839, Colour
Keywords: Painting by Colonel Henry Francis Ainslie
ridcanal painting by Colonel Henry Francis Ainslie

February 25, 2021: This is a re-organization of the first few pages of our Rideau Canal web pages -- from here down to February 13, 2021.
Picture Source: Bartlett's Canada - A pre-Confederation journey, Introduction by Henry C. Campbell, Chief Librarian, Toronto Public Library, McLelland and Stewart, 1968, no ISBN, page 118. Note: This painting is the original, in colour, painted by William Henry Bartlett, c. 1838. There is a black and white copy of this photo on this web page under date of November 22, 2020.
Keywords: Parliament Hill, Major's Hill, W.H. Bartlett, Steamboat Shannon, Sterling Brewery, Museum of the Historical Society of Ottawa. The following painting is one of many done by William Henry Bartlett which is in colour (albeit faint colour). Most of Bartlett's work is not credited to him. Apparently he could not afford to copyright his work and everyone just helped himself.
Painting, colour, by W. H. Bartlett Entrance Bay

New February 25, 2021:
Rideau Canal, Intro Text by Passfield, page 42

New February 25, 2021:
Rideau Canal, Intro Pic First Camp, by Passfield, page 43

February 13, 2021:
Picture Source: Bartlett's Canada - A pre-Confederation journey, Introduction by Henry C. Campbell, Chief Librarian, Toronto Public Library, McLelland and Stewart, 1968, no ISBN, page 119. This large photo shows the first six locks going back from Entrance Bay. The building opposite the third lock, on the left is the long gone Commissary Building. The building on the right side of the canal is the home of the Historical Society of Ottawa Museum and it is the oldest building in Ottawa.
Rideau Canal First locks large photo

February 8, 2021: Picture Source: The Rideau: A Pictorial History of the Waterway, Edited by Adrian G. Ten Cate, Besancourt Publishers, ISBN 0-920032-04-4, 1981, page 94.
Rideau Ferry 1832, painting by John Burrows

January 26, 2021: Note: This map was created by the Royal Engineers at Chatham, Quebec which was a Township in Argenteuil County, Quebec until the 1980's. These soldiers were likely involved in building the Grenville and Carillon Canals in the 1820's. See https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Argenteuil_County,_Quebec_Genealogy
Rideau Canal Map by Legget

January 1, 2021:
Picture Source: Lanark Legacy, by Howard Morton Brown, ISBN 0-9690289-2-X, page 25. Keywords: Sergeant James Maitland, Kilmarnock, James Pattison Cockburn, Maitland's Rapids
Maitland / Kilmarnock by John Burrows

December 25, 2020:
This introductory text is from Rideau Waterway: Gateway to a Continent by Robert Legget, University of Toronto Press, 1955, ISBN 0-8020-2189-I, page 4 Rideau Canal in the Heart of Ottawa - Text by Legget
The Rideau Canal in the Heart of Ottawa Picture Source: Rideau Waterway, Revised Edition, by Robert Legget, ISBN 0-8020-1904-8, 1955, University of Toronto Press, page 195
Rideau Canal in the Heart of Ottawa

November 22, 2020:
Rideau Canal Entrance Bay, Downtown Ottawa
Picture Source: From the book Ottawa: City of the Big Ears, by Robert Haig, 1969, Haig and Haig Publishing Company, Ottawa, no ISBN, page 81.
Entrance Bay, Rideau Canal keywords: Sappers Bridge, Commissary Building, Barrack Hill, Colonel John By, Major's Hill Park, Lt. Pooley, steamer Shannon, W.H. Bartlett.

November 7, 2020:

The Royal Engineer's Office (at the second lock of the Rideau Canal) This painting shows the now extinct building opposite the Bytown Museum - the Royal Engineer's Office. It is from page 35 of the book Ottawa: City of the Big Ears, by Robert Haig, 1969, Haig and Haig Publishing Company, Ottawa, no ISBN. Key words: William Foster Coffin, Commissioner of Ordnance Lands

Building at Second Lock of ridcanal - Royal Engineer's Bldg

North Entrance of the Rideau Canal Picture Source: Ottawa Past and Present, by A.H.D. Ross, 2007, Reprinted 2007, by Global Genealogy.com, 2007, ISBN 978-1-897446-00-3, page 62. Water Colour by Thomas Burrowes Deputy Minister with two Briefcases ! North Entrance to Rideau Canal

October 11, 2020:
The Rideau Canal Showing Colonel By's House in Major Hills Park Picture Source: Ottawa Past and Present, by A.H.D. Ross, 2007, Reprinted 2007, by Global Genealogy.com, 2007 , ISBN 978-1-897446-00-3, page 86 Colonel By's House

October 7, 2020:
The Rideau Canal at Kingston Mills Picture Source: Rideau Waterway, Revised Edition, by Robert Legget, ISBN 0-8020-1904-8, 1955, University of Toronto Press, page 51 Rideau Canal Block House Pic at Kingston Mills Rideau Canal Block House Textat Kingston Mills

October 6, 2020:
The Rideau Canal at Jones Falls Picture Source: Rideau Waterway, Revised Edition, by Robert Legget, ISBN 0-8020-1904-8, 1955, University of Toronto Press, page 82 Jones Falls on the Rideau Canal with Boats

September 23, 2020:
Skating on the Rideau Canal in Downtown Ottawa, Picture Source: Ottawa: The Capital of Canada, Shirley E. Woods, Jr., Doubleday, 1980, ISBN 0-385-14722-8, page 242 Skating on the Rideau Canal
Keywords: Deep Cut, Photography by Malak
September 13, 2020:
First Picture of the Rideau Canal Locks at Bytown in 1832. Drawn by G.T. Vigne in 1832. Source: The Hub and the Spokes, by Anson Gard, page 3 of the images section. The two men are standing near the north end of Major's Hill Park firstpictureofrideaucanallocksin1832
November 3, 2019: This picture is from Picturesque Canada, Volume 1, page 169. This book is "An affectionate Look Back", from the Original Illustrations and Text of 1882-85, Pandora Publishing Company, Victoria, B.C., 1975 (no ISBN).
Head Lock of the Rideau Canal

July 16, 2018: The Celtic Cross Memorial Ceremony for 2018 will be held on Monday, August 6 at 2:00 P.M.
Celtic Cross Memorial Gathering, 2018 Celtic Cross Memorial Gathering, 2018 Celtic Cross Memorial Gathering, 2018 Thanks to the Irish Society of the National Capital Region for letting us know about the above event! ____________________________________________________________________________________

January 19, 2016: Here is another good resource for researching the Rideau Canal. The book Labourers on the Rideau Canal, 1826-1832: From Work Site to World Heritage Site, edited by Katherine M.J. McKenna, Borealis Press, Ottawa, 2008, ISBN 978-0-88887-355-2. It contains an article by Professor Bruce Elliott called Tracing Your Rideau Canal Ancestors: Records of Labourers, Squatters and Tenants on the Rideau Canal. December 31, 2015: Happy New Year to all! Here is a very useful resource brought to our attention by Pauline Johns from the Irish Research Group of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. The records are called Canada, Rideau Canal Rents, Property and Employment Correspondence, 1826-1855 and include 260 pages of early Canal Rents, etc. stored at the Public Records Office, London, England. These records are also held at Library and Archives Canada and at ancestry.ca. http://interactive.ancestry.ca/3478/40946_2000726804-00000?backurl=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch.ancestry.ca%2Fsearch%2Fdb.aspx%3Fdbid%3D3478%26path%3D&ssrc&backlabel=ReturnBrowsing#?imageId=40946_2000726804-00000 ___________________________________________ September 15, 2015: Grace Lewis presented a paper at the recent Gene-O-Rama Conference of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. Her paper, in .pdf format below, shows how to research your Rideau Canal ancestors who may have been working on constructing the Canal between 1826 and 1832. Many of these workers settled in the Ottawa area and we have been here for seven or eight generations. The examples shown in her paper follow several families from 1826 up until about 1926. Read it here: http://www.bytown.net/Grace's Presentation, 2015.pdf ... Al Lewis ____________________________________
Tug Boat Agnes and Barge Rideau Canal, near Hog's Back Ottawa, Canada Library and Archives MIKAN number 3326229 Rideau Canal Tug Boat and Barge near Hog's Back, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Rideau Canal at Bank Street Ottawa, Canada Library and Archives Canada, MIKAN Number 3384584 Rideau Canal - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

May 13, 2010:
Source for two images, below: Murphy's Point Provincial Park, 2008 Information Guide Rideau Canal - A UNESCO World Heritage Site Map of the Rideau Canal, Ottawa to Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Source: The Rideau Waterway by Robert Legget. Transcribed by Taylor Kennedy "Upon the initial surveys of the Rideau River, Colonel By strongly recommended that the size of the locks be increased from 100 feet by 22 feet wide with a depth of 5 feet over the sills. He urged that the locks be built of such a size to accommodate the naval steamboats and wooden spars. After a study was done, By's recommendations were approved. When spring came to Canada in 1832, Colonel By took his family, some fellow officers as well as some contractors, such as Thomas Philips, Andrew White, Thomas McKay and John Redpath to Kingston Mills, so that all might share in the final joy of participating in the opening of the Rideau Canal. Robert Drummond had his steamboat vessel the '˜PUMPER', ready for the occasion, and indeed temporarily changed its name to the '˜RIDEAU'™ for the event. Robert Drummond, a Scotsman and Stonemason arrived in Canada at Kingston in 1828 and started working on the locks the same year. He was not only in lock building, but also into shipbuilding. His first vessel was 80 feet long with a beam of 15 feet and drew 6 feet of water. It was equipped with a twelve horsepower engine. It was initially for the purpose of pumping out cofferdams (temporary dams built to surround the riverbed where masonry had to build). For this purpose it was fitted with special pumping engines, thus taking the practical name the "PUMPER". Another of Drummond's steamship building ventures was not as successful. In 1831 he built a much larger boat measuring 110 feet long with a 26 foot beam. It was supposed to draw 31/2 feet of water, but when launched, it drew so much more than this that it could not be taken into the Rideau Canal System, and had to be used on the St. Lawrence instead. It was christened the 'JOHN BY'> At noon on May 24, 1832, the great journey commenced, the Rideau having a forward escort in the naval dockyard cutter Snake, and herself creating a rear escort by hauling two barges. The cutter and barges went as far as Jones Falls. The Rideau arrived at Smith Falls at six o'™clock on the morning of the 25th. Extra passengers were taken on board and eventually, the little vessel sailed into the wharf of Bytown on May 29, 1832. The Rideau Waterway was complete. The Ottawa River had been linked with Lake Ontario. When the Ottawa River canals were ready, as they were in 1834, steamboats would be able to sail up from the sea to Montreal, on to the Ottawa River, through the Rideau Canal System and into the Great Lakes. The first St. Lawrence Seaway would be a reality. On Sunday, May 03, 1840, the steamer Bytown passed down through the Merrickville stretch of the Canal with one barge in tow, on board which were the men of the 65th Regiment. Up to 1840 much of the freight was conveyed on barges, pulled by the new paddle steamers. There is on record, one voyage of the steamer Hunter, pulling no less than 24 barges. This must have been exceptional ; there would rarely be more than ten behind any regular steam tug. Moss Kent Dickinson from Manotick earned himself the undisputed title as "King of the Rideau". A native of New York, he settled in Bytown and established himself as a forwarder of freight on the Rideau Canal. At the height of his activity, he owned and operated a fleet of sixteen steamers and eighty four barges. After 1860, he sold his holdings to Montreal and Chicago, USA financiers. He was Mayor of Ottawa from 1864 to 1866. He was also the founder of Manotick, establishing the first mill there in 1859. In 1834 a little steamer the Enterprise was built at Perth in order to provide service between Perth, Bytown and Kingston. It was commanded by Captain William Richards. A native of Ireland, orphaned at the age of twelve, sailor in the British Navy through the War of 1812, then a free trader of forest products to the West Indies. In the mid 1800's some steamers on the St. Lawrence included the Hibernia and the '˜SHAMROCK'™ which her boiler blew on the St. Lawrence killing mostly Englis patrons as they occupied the more central region of the vessel. ... sorry about the dumb characters in this paper ... On November 02, 1935, the last passenger steamer, the '˜OTTAWAN'™, pulled away from its wharf at Ottawa on it'™s way to close another chapter in the history of the Rideau Canal when it reached Smith Falls. Those who grew up on the Rideau shores will remember the old '˜OTTAWAN'™, the '˜RIDEAU QUEEN'™ and the '˜RIDEAU KING'™ steamers with their graceful lines and crowded happy decks. The names '˜LORETTA'™ and '˜AGNES P.'™ are bourne by steamers. Their plaintive whistles and high stacks were familiar sounds and sites all the way from Ottawa to Kingston Mills."

photo below taken c. 1860 Railway of J.R. Booth is on right (east) side of the canal The Rideau Queen

February 10, 2008: Hi Al, Thought some of your readers may enjoy this site. Some of the illustrations of Bytown and the Rideau Canal are remarkable. They are paintings by Thomas Burrowes who worked in senior positions along the canal from 1826 to 1846. Regards, ... Mary http://www.archives.gov.on.ca/english/exhibits/burrowes/index.html
November 10, 2009:
Photo Source: Selections from Picturesque Canada: An Affectionate Look Back plate number 34. The Dufferin Bridge in Downtown, Ottawa This sketch was made in the 1870's and shows a view from the east bank of the Rideau Canal. The East Block of the Parliament Buildings is in the upper left. In keeping with our lumbering history, there is a pointer boa,t carrying short logs, adjacent to the steam boat. These logs may have been fuel to run the steam engine. The Dufferin Bridge in Downtown Ottawa, c. 1870

See also Early Steam Boats in the Ottawa area

August 17, 2009: New e-mail address for Mary Cox: bytownmary@hotmail.com

August 2, 2010:
Map showing all lockstations along the Rideau Canal Ottawa to Kingston, Ontario Rideau Canal Map
Ottawa to Kingston, Ontario



August 17, 2010: In 1834, a canal was constructed from Perth Ontario to join up with the Rideau Canal at Beveridge Bay on the Lower Rideau Lake. This canal, called the Tay Canal (originally Haggart's Ditch), was in disrepair before long and the new Tay Canal, still in use today, was built in the 1880's. ... Al
August 19,2012:
Source for image, below: The Rideau: A Pictorial History of the Waterway, Edited by Adrian G. Ten Cate, Besancourt Publishers, 1981, ISBN 0-920032-04-4, page 78 Rideau Canal - Distances from Lock to Lock, Ottawa to Kingston, Ontario, Canada

April 17, 2013: Visit Kelly's Landing on the Rideau Canal near Manotick.
October 4, 2013:
A Tranquil Spot at Poonamalie, Ontario on the Rideau Canal Poonamalie, Ontario, Rideau Canal

July 20, 2014:
The canal being used today. This photo shows where the Rideau Canal meets the Ottawa River in Downtown Ottawa: Rideau Canal meets the Ottawa River in Downtown Ottawa The Bytown Museum and the Chateau Laurier Hotel are situated at the Headlocks of the Canal. The Bytown Museum and the Chateau Laurier Hotel, 2014

December 11, 2014: (added new book) Military Paternalism: Labour and the Rideau Canal Project, by Robert W. Passfield, Author House LLC, 2013, ISBN 978-1-4817-5569-6
February 24, 2015: Added yet another book today: Labourers on the Rideau Canal, 1826-1832: From Work Site to World Heritage Site, edited by Katherine M. J. McKenna, 2008, Borealis Press, ISBN 978-0-88887-355-2 July 9, 2016: I'll be doing some research on the Canal Workers at the Rideau Canal, the Lachine Canal and the Beauharnois Canal. Some of the labourers from the Ottawa area worked on canal construction at all three sites. Some of my research sources will be added to the Canal Workers Research web page over the summer. ... Al
August 5, 2016: Here is a new (OK, old) photograph sent in by Chris Gardner. It shows an early 20th century steamboat, "The Fay", apparently on the Rideau Canal. Does anyone recognize the surroundings or any of the passengers? Steamboat FAY on the Rideau Canal August 6, 2016: Thanks to Taylor Kennedy for the following information!
The Bank Street Bridge, Ottawa, Canada in 1910, from Taylor Kennedy Location of photograph of the FAY, Brown's Inlet, Ottawa, Canada, from Taylor Kennedy

April 4, 2019: (post retirement) A Very Good Reference Book: "Class Conflict on the Canals of Upper Canada", by Ruth Bleasdale, in Pre-Industrial Canada, 1760-1849, Volume 2, edited by Michael S. Cross and Gregory S. Kealey, pages 100-129, McClelland and Stewart Limited, ISBN 0-7710-2461-4, 1991.
April 29, 2019: Source for the following text block and picture of the Rideau Canal is National Capital Heritage, page 130-131. Keywords: world's longest skating rink, Colonel John By, Bytown Museum, Block House at Merrickville Rideau Canal downtown text Rideau Canal downtown pic
May 19, 2019: Text Block Below is from page 132 of National Capital Region Heritage Keywords Commissariat Building (Bytown Museum )
Bytown Museum Building Bytown Museum Bldg. Text

November 28, 2019: Interesting .pdf file of paintings and text of the Rideau Canal by Ruth McMillan. (Historical Society of Ottawa, 1976)
July 14, 2020: Roman Catholic Labourers on the Rideau Canal at Hog's Back, Bytown, Upper Canada, 1829-1853 September 6, 2020: Source: Building the Rideau Canal: A Pictorial History, by Robert W. Passfield, pages 174 & 175; ISBN: 0-88902-726-9 "Fort Henry, Kingston; 1839, Captain H.F. Ainslie, 25th Regiment of Foot; Watercolour, pen and ink The recently constructed Fort Henry redoubt, on the heights of Point Henry, is viewed in this painting from Kington looking across the harbour and the dockyard on Point Frederick. The steamboat, possibly the Hunter, is heading toward Lake Ontario having passed through the Rideau Canal with several Durham boats in tow. On the left waterfront can be seen the commissioner's house with the Union Jack and naval pennant flying on the dock in front of it, to the right behind a picket fence is the naval hospital, and further right are the artificers' rowhouses. In the background is the Fort Henry redoubt with the west branch ditch extending down to Navy Bay. To the right of the redoubt are the Commissariat buildings erected at an earlier date, and an advanced sea battery, still under construction, overlooking Lake Ontario."
Fort Henry, Kingston; 1839 - Steamboat with Durham boats

1) November 18, 2020:
Weed Removal on the Rideau Canal in Downtown Ottawa This photograph shows the annual removal of the accumulated weed growth from the Rideau Canal in downtown Ottawa. The Laurier Avenue Bridge is in the near background. It is from page 169 from the book Invisible Army: Hard Times, Heartbreak and Heritage, by Ed Bebee, ISBN 978-0-9696052-4-9. Weed Removal from the Rideau Canal in Downtown Ottawa

2) November 18, 2020:
Experimental Weed Cutter, 1963 This photograph shows an experimental weed cutter at work on the Canal. The photo is from page 215 from the book Invisible Army: Hard Times, Heartbreak and Heritage, by Ed Bebee, ISBN 978-0-9696052-4-9. Experimental Weed Cutter from the Rideau Canal in 1963

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