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History and Geography of the Rideau River


A Canadian Heritage River

The Rideau River.
Stillness on the Rideau River.

In August 2000, the Rideau Canal Waterway was officially designated a Canadian Heritage River, culminating four years of work by approximately 100 environmental, municipal, historical and other organizations.

As part of the Canal, the Rideau River thus joins an elite group of some 40 Canadian rivers, recognized for their great historic, ecological or recreational value. [28]

With this designation, the Canadian government has emphasized its commitment to preserving the unique historic character of the Rideau Canal Waterway.

A boat departing a lock on the Rideau River.
Most locks have been
opened and closed by
hand since 1832!

"Travelling the waterway is like going back in time. Almost everything is still as it was. The buildings have been preserved and almost all the locks are still manually operated, as they were in the old days," notes Charles Billington, Communications Director of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. This is one of the groups that spearheaded the effort to have the waterway given heritage designation.

The Rideau River Biodiversity Project helped to bring about this designation by demonstrating the rich biodiversity of the Rideau River and its generally good state of health.

Various organizations, including the Rideau River Roundtable, are continuing the work of preserving the quality of this newly designated Heritage River for future generations.

Find out more about Canada's Heritage Rivers at


 History and Geography

Map of the Rideau Canal Waterway, from Kingston to Ottawa.
View a detailed map of the Rideau Canal Waterway, which stretches between Kingston and Ottawa.

A dragonfly.
A dragonfly.
A Project of the Canadian Museum of Nature
 Images: Canadian Museum of Nature, Lynn Gillespie, Valérie J. May, Andy Ormsby