Ottawa family fun: A voyageur canoe trip on the Rideau Canal

by DaniGirl on September 1, 2015 · 3 comments

in Ottawa Family Fun, Ottawa's hidden treasures

Great news: I have a most excellent new suggestion for an affordable family activity that involves fresh air, exercise and a fascinating and fun lesson in Ottawa history. Not so great news: the season is over until spring, so you’ll have to wait until next year to try it out for yourself.

As I’ve mentioned, I like to walk along the Rideau Canal at lunch time. Over the summer, a few times I caught sight of a massive canoe being paddled down the Canal. At first, I thought it was some sort of summer camp activity, but then I noticed many of the participants were adults. One time the canoe passed close enough that I noticed the Parks Canada logo on the canoe, and I could hear a narrative being delivered about Colonel John By and how the Canal was built. Intrigued, I googled it and sure enough, it is yet another amazing Parks Canada family activity, one that’s been running all summer in downtown Ottawa practically right under my nose: Voyageur Canoe tours from the Ottawa lock station, right beside the Chateau Laurier.

Voyageur canoe tour

How fun is that? They have one and two hour guided tours, and they provide everything, and it’s less than $10 per person. There’s room for 10 people, plus a Parks Canada guide in the front and back. On our one hour tour, we made it past the Corkstown bridge and just to the big bend in the Canal before the Pretoria Bridge and then back again. Our guides Liam and Molly were awesome: chatty and full of interesting anecdotes about the history of the Canal, and not at all judgmental about our very, um, uncoordinated paddling and the rather incessant grumbling of two brothers locked in a battle of oars wills over personal paddling space.

Voyageur canoe tour on the Rideau Canal

You can paddle as much or little as you like, and with the exception of mild wakes from passing boats, the water is calm and forgiving – considerably less terrifying than our our previous family canoe trip almost 10 years ago. I was sure at the outset that at least one paddle, if not one boy, would end up floating in the Canal at some point, but miraculously we lost neither paddles nor passengers during the tour.

Voyageur canoe tour on the Rideau Canal

This was a really fun family adventure. An hour is the perfect amount of time, and it’s a wonderful way to explore the easy-to-overlook Rideau Canal at the heart of our beautiful city. The boys were tickled to be paddling across the same spot they often skate in the winter, and they actually listened to enough of the history lesson to ask me questions about it after the fact.

Put this one on your to-do list for summer 2016!


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah McCormack September 1, 2015 at 10:47 am

looks awesome!

2 Lynn September 1, 2015 at 12:24 pm

This looks amazing, and I’d never heard about it either. It’s going on our summer list for 2016 for sure!

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