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Info for Organizers

So, you want to organize a tour! Well, congratulations on planning to provide the rowing community with another beautiful, enjoyable event. The guidelines below will help you plan and execute your vision. And... thank you!

Rowing Tour Manual

Download the Rowing Tour Manual HERE.



For a list (and contact info) for the OAR Board, including the tour facilitator, treasurer, and president go HERE.

Part 1: I've Got An Excellent Idea

You've got an excellent idea for an epic tour! The first step is to contact the OAR President and Tour Facilitator, Cynthia, ideally in the Fall or early Winter before the rowing season schedule is formalized. Each year's schedule is worked out at planning meetings held in January and February.

Next, you must reconnoiter the proposed route to make sure it's feasible. Things to consider:

  • Launching and landing place

  • The length of each section and how long it will take

  • Seasonal changes, which can include water levels, currents, flooding, wind, etc.

  • Facilities (like toilets!)


It's helpful to get help! If you can enlist a few people from your club to assist you, all the better! Two to three enthusiastic people are ideal.

For further information on all things touring, check out the ROW TOURING MANUAL FOR CANADA. Though it is long and meandering, it has many useful nuggets buried in its verbiage.

Part 2: Let's Get To Work!

Ah, Paperwork, how would or lives improve without you!

This is the boring bit so PAY ATTENTION!

Develop the Safety Plan:

Read pages 6-7 of the Row Touring Manual and refer to the example Safety Plan from the Kawartha Lakes Tour in Appendix II.

Apply for sanction:

Visit https://membership.rowingcanada.orgChoose "My Account" and log in (you must have an RCA number, and if you don't have a password already you will have to register first), then choose, "Propose an Event", and then choose "Tour".

RCA passes the responsibility for sanctioning to Row Ontario, so look for emails from Row Ontario in your inbox, within a few days. However, do this step early - we don't want to derail awesome adventure with bureaucratic issues!

It is not necessary to place the event on Regatta Central or pay their fees.

Make arrangements:

Do we need to launch or land at a park or recreation area? Let the management of these spaces know what you are planning and find out about fees.

Planning to feed the participants (recommended)? Contact the caterers or restaurant you have to mind.

Do you need to buy a lock pass for the boats? If yes, let the lock masters know what day and approximate time we will 'lock' through.

Find sponsors if you wish. Anyone who will give you money for this adventure is a new friend!

Make sure you arrange enough boats for the expected number of participants. Contact OAR Equipment Manager, Arnold regarding OAR equipment and its transport to the site (if required).


A promotional ad (what, when, where) in the OAR newsletter, at least two months before the tour, is the first and best way to get participants to save the date. The enticing ad that you supply will also appear on the OAR website. OAR Publicity Director, Shelagh, will send your information to the club champions throughout Ontario.

Part 3: Getting and Spending

Okay, this is the really important bit!

Who's got the money?

If you are working with your own home rowing club on this tour, you should discuss with your financial people how the club wants to receive fees and pay expenses, retain profit or cover losses. It should be noted that sometimes, expenses need to be paid before any tour-income is received.

If you are an independent member of OAR, you would use your own account for the financial activity. OAR requires a written accounting of revenue and expenditures, and remittance of seat fees, and any profit (see Part 6).

If you're thinking big, and the tour budget will be over $10,000, contact the OAR Treasurer, Diana: HST may be involved!

Develop a budget

Bottom line, you need boats and you need them delivered to your launch site. Go here for the OAR Fee Schedule. This is the cost for renting boats and trailers, fuel charges for boat towing to your site, and the vehicle maintenance fee payable for the tow-er. Unless you rent a truck and pay for fuel (and build that into your budget) or have really good, trailer-towing-experienced friends who owe you a favour!

Other expenses will likely include:

  • Lock fees, park fees, and overnight storage (if applicable)

  • Snacks and water - for heaven's sake don't forget the snacks

  • Lunch (see "snacks" for comments). If we stop at a restaurant, participants may buy their own lunch.

  • Accommodation is usually up to participants to arrange and pay for*

  • Honorariums. Is a club letting the tour use their docks? A marina or private owner? An honorarium of $100 is customarily offered so make that part of your budget.

There are currently (2023) no 'seat fees' payable to RCA or Row Ontario for tours.

Build in a contingency amount. Even the best estimates can have a shortfall; the cost of fuel can rise, the caterer may have forgotten to add HST to the quote, you may have fewer participants for your fixed costs, etc.

Now you can divide the costs by the number of participants you anticipate. This is the entry fee you will publish (soon) - be sure it clearly states what is included. If this is the first tour that you've organized, reach out to the OAR Tour Facilitator, Cynthia to ensure you've thought of everything.

*However, a tour is often most enjoyable if everybody stays at the same place so you can reserve a block of rooms, well before your tour. You will need to decide if you want to include accommodation in the tour fee, or release a room from your reservation block to a paid participant to register and pay themselves, or let everyone sort out their own accommodation.

You want what?

Sometimes participants withdraw after paying their fees. Rarely is the reason frivolous and we all know how life can interfere with our plans. You should create a refund policy which includes withdrawal deadlines and (if applicable) non-refundable portions of the fee. It is also useful to encourage the person withdrawing to find a replacement for themselves.

Part 4: Applications & Cover Your Assets

I bet you already know... this is important too!

Participant Forms

OAR has a way to cover you against legal liability in case something goes wrong - which is pretty darned rare - RCA provides insurance to registered RCA members. The following steps ensure that you and your tour will be covered and only RCA (or USRA) members will be in the boats!

Download the Registration and Waiver Form HERE. These forms were create for tour organizers to use. You just enter the name and date of the tour, the cost to participants and payment deadlines, and your refund policy. Make sure the participants know how to send the signed forms and tour fees to you.

The forms that you have edited, plus your enticing ad (or updated/expanded ad), should again be sent to OAR web guru Homam, as soon as possible but no less than 3 weeks before the tour. He will put this package on the website and in our newsletter. The newsletter comes out on the first of each month during the rowing season.

The OAR Guest Application Form may be used for 1 tour annually. For details, please see Appendix III.

Before the day of the tour, confirm that you have received the signed registration forms and waivers from all participants. If you have unsigned ones, you can thrust a pen into their hands before the trailer unloading commences. Hmmm, sign a form or carry a boat?

Registrar and Registration

As soon as the list of participants is complete, inform the OAR Registrar, Shelagh. She needs to know:

  • Name of Participant they have used to register with RCA or their club

  • RCA number (or date of birth)

  • Email address

  • Club affiliation (if any)

Send this information a week or two before the tour because the Registrar checks that all participants are registered for the current year with RCA and Row Ontario. If a participant is not registered, the registrar will inform you so that you can provide information on how to join OAR and register on the RCA website. See Appendix IV.

Part 5: You've Got This

Okay, we're shifting to drive! OAR is behind you and you've got this!

Sanction and Press

Check that you have received the sanction. If not, contact the OAR Tour Facilitator, Cynthia immediately.

If you think you can drum up any publicity then go for it! Local press, cottager's newsletters, rowing groups on Facebook, club newsletters - whatever you can think of. If you have a sponsor, work with them on publicity.

If you would like to periodically update the status of your tour on the OAR website, (for example "only 2 seats left") please notify OAR web guru, Homam.


You should have a written list of everything that has to be done, when and by whom. If you have helpers - make sure they know they are helpers - and what you want them to do and when (we'll leave the threats and enticements to you).

It is recommended that you have a waiting list of a few names once your tour is full. Knowing how much notice the individuals on your waiting list need if a place opens up is useful information to have in advance.

Once the tour is full, notify Homam so that the tour status can be changed to "FULL".

Part 6: Woohoo! You did it!

Revel in the glory

OAR likes to get positive reinforcement. If we don't get it, we work really hard to make sure we get it next time! Within a day or two of the end of the tour, ask participants what they thought about the tour, using the OAR TOUR SURVEY FORM.

In your email, request that the participants complete the survey and return it to you and OAR Publicity, Shelagh. This is the best time to also request any photos that they may have taken (again, ask them to send the photos to you and Shelagh).

Write an email about the event, including things that went really well and things that should be improved the next year. Send a this to the OAR Tour Facilitator, Cynthia.

Share your awesomeness - send a recap (with photos!) for the OAR Newsletter to Homam and your local press.

It makes the world go round...

Complete an accounting showing all your revenue (incoming) and expenses (outgoing) and send it to OAR Treasurer, Diana. Make sure all the bills have been paid!

  • If the tour is organized by a Club and there is a profit, your Club keeps the profit. If there is a deficit, the Club must absorb the deficit.

  • If the tour is organized by an individual associated with OAR, submit seat fees and profit to OAR Treasurer, Diana.

Thank the sponsors and everybody who helped organize the event. Sponsors usually like to receive a letter. Don't forget those who provided services such as food and transport.

Boats and Oars and Thing-ma-bobs

Inform the Director responsible for equipment, Arnold, about anything that needs to be repaired.


Put your feet up and have one!


Appendix I - Quick Timetable/Check List

Appendix II - Kawartha Lakes Tour Safety Plan

Appendix III - Guest Application Form (good for one tour only)

Appendix IV - The OAR Standard Registration Form

Appendix V - Row Canada (RCA) registration information for independent rowers

Updated: March 2023


Rowing Routes

Eastern Canada Rowing Routes for Distance Rowing

Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal was built in 1826-32 by the British Army under Colonel By as a military supply route. It was an engineering marvel. The total length of the Canal from Lake Ontario (Kingston) to the Ottawa River (Ottawa) is 202 km. The locks are picturesque, many of the lockmaster houses are historic, and there are several defensive blockhouses. In 2007 The Rideau Canal was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are 46 locks and each group of locks has washrooms. Many lock stations have low canoe docks. To go through the locks, paddle hooks to hold the vertical cables are strongly recommended. Locks are manually operated with the exception of Smiths Falls combined and Newboro locks. You will definitely see loons and herons; ospreys and their nests are a strong possibility to those with keen eyes.

Main rowing segments (approximately one day each for strong rowers in a quad) are:
• Kingston-Jones Falls
• Jones Falls-Newboro-Narrows
• Smith Falls-Rideau River Provincial Park
• Rideau River Provincial Park - Manotick
• Manotick - Ottawa

Distances at locks are as follows:
• 0 km - Ottawa locks 1-8
• 6.7 km - Hartwell locks 9-10
• 8.4 km - Hogs Back Locks 11-12
• 15.0 km - Black Rapids Lock 13
• 23.3 km - Long Island Locks 14-16
• 64.0 km - Burritt’s Rapids Lock 17
• 69.4 km - Lower Nicholsons Lock 18
• 69.7 km - Upper Nicholsons Lock 19
• 70.5 km - Clowes Lock 20
• 73.8 km - Merrickville Lock 21
• 74.0 km - Merrickville Lock 22
• 74.2 km - Merrickville Lock 23
• 86.7 km – Kilmarnock Lock 24
• 92.7 km - Edmonds Lock 25
• 95.4 km - Old Slys Locks 26-27
• 96.8 km - Smith Falls combined lock 29
• 102.2 km - Poonamalie lock 32
• 132.4 km - Narrows Lock 35
• 140.8 km - Newboro Lock 36
• 148.7 km - Chaffey’s Lock 37
• 152.0 km - Davis Lock 38
• 159.0 km - Jones Falls Lock 39
• 159.2 km - Jones Falls Locks 40-42
• 176.5 km - Upper Brewers Locks 43-44
• 179.3 km - Lower Brewers (Washburn) Lock 45
• 195.0 km - Kingston Mills Lock 46
• 195.2 km - Kingston Mills Locks 47-49
• 202.1 km - Kingston Lasalle Causeway

In the almost 40 km stretch between Long Island and Burritt’s Rapids Locks, stopping spots include W.A. Taylor Conservation Area (39.9 km) and the Rideau River Provincial Park (km 50.9 km). The cluster of locks between Burritt’s Rapids and Merrickville are often avoided as is Smith Falls and Lower/Big Rideau Lakes between Old Slys and Narrows Locks. Lower/Big Rideau Lakes can get rough.

A 13 km side canal leads from Lower Rideau Lake up the Tay River to the historic graystone town of Perth. The first Lower Beveridges Locks is at km 110.7, while the Perth Basin is at 120.4 km.

The most beautiful part of the Rideau Canal is between Newboro and Lower Brewers Locks. This area is replete with lakes created by the flooding behind locks and dams. Here you will see loons, boathouses, pines, and rock.

Trent-Severn Waterway

The first locks were built in 1844, but the Trent Canal was not finished until 1920. The Trent-Severn Waterway is 386 km and bisects Ontario from Lake Ontario (Trenton) to Georgian Bay (Port Severn). These locks are bigger and deeper than those on the Rideau Canal. As well embankments are sometimes quite high making boats put- ins and take-outs difficult at some locks. There are 41 locks, including 2 hydraulic lift locks and one marine railway lock. The Peterborough lift lock is the highest hydraulic lift lock in the world (19.8 m). Each lock station has washrooms during hours of operation. To go through the locks, paddle hooks to hold the vertical cables are strongly recommended. There are loons in the Kawartha Lakes as well as other lakes. Cormorants fish in the Georgian Bay section.

Some rowing segments (approximately one day each for strong rowers in a quad) are:
• Port Severn - Gloucester Pond - Big Chute
• Big Chute - Lock 43
• Lock 43 - Sparrow Lake - Lock 42
• Lock 42 - Washago - Lake Couchiching - Orillia (Orillia Rowing Club)
• Canal Lake - Kirkfield (lift lock)
• Balsam Lake - Fenelon Falls (through lock 36)
• Fenelon Falls - Sturgeon Lake - Bobcaygeon
• Bobcaygeon - Buckhorn
• Buckhorn - Burleigh Falls (Lock 28) - Stony and Clear Lakes - Youngs Point
• Youngs Point - Lakefield - Peterborough Rowing Club - Peterborough (through many locks including the famous lift lock at Peterborough)
• Peterborough - Serpent Mounds Park (Rice Lake can get windy)
• Serpent Mounds Park (Rice Lake) - Hastings
• Hasting-Campellford
• Campbellford-Percy Reach
• Wilson Island-Glen Ross
• Glen Ross-Trenton (Bay of Quinte)
• Bay of Quinte from Trenton-Belleville (Quinte Rowing Club)

A short side canal goes through Lindsay to Scugog Lake on which is Port Perry, the side of the Durham Rowing Club.

West-east water bodies (e.g, Sturgeon Lake, Rice Lake, and Percy Reach) have their water whipped up by the prevailing westerlies. Lake Simcoe, Lake Couchiching and the Bay of Quinte can be quite rough.

Other Canals

The Richelieu River is another long distance rowing route. It is ‘canalised’ with 9 locks near Chambly and 1 lock at St. Ours. From Sorel to the northern end of Lake Champlain at the U.S. border, there is a distance of 68 nautical miles. This river can be busy with power boats and ski-doos, especially during the Quebec construction break in the last two weeks of July.
The Welland Recreational Canal and the Galops Canal (at Iroquois, Ontario) make
for pleasant half day rowing excursions.

Ottawa River

The Ottawa River from Mattawa to Lac des deux montagnes at Ste-Anne de Bellevue is part of the fur trade artery of Canada in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries. Many of the rapids have been submerged by barrage lakes. Rowing in touring quads is very good on many of these lakes, although on summer afternoons the waves can be large and thunderstorms can threaten.

Some rowing sections are:
• Deux Rivieres - Driftwood Provincial Park (Lake Holden)
• Rapides-des-Joachims - Deep River
• Deep River - Oiseau Rock (a sacred aboriginal site) - Petawawa
• Waltham-Davidson - Campbells Bay - Bryson
• Castleford - Arnprior - Morris Island (Lac des Chats)
• Fitzroy Harbour - Britannia Park (Lac Deschenes)
• Ottawa (Ottawa New Edinburgh Club Sculling and Ottawa Rowing Club) - Petrie Island
• Petrie Island-Rockland - Thurso
• Thurso-Parc de Plaissance - Montebello
• Montebello - Carillon dam
• Carillon dam - Lac des deux montagnes (Oka/Hudson) - Ste. Anne de Bellevue

The Ottawa River has many tributaries. Many of these are challenging white water canoeing rivers (e.g., Petawawa, Noir, Coulonge, and Rouge). The Rouge River and the Ottawa River south of Calumet Island are renowned rafting waterways - to be avoided by rowers! It is possible to row several kilometers upstream from the mouths of the Dumoine, Bonnechere, Madawaska, Blanche, and Nation Rivers. The South Nation River, on the Ontario side, has gently flowing waters, but the waters are brown and murky, filled with sediment.
Along the shores of the Ottawa River watch for remnants of the logging drives, such as iron rings, control structures, and squared timber. The pine trees have regrown and are magnificent, especially in the Upper Ottawa. You will see birds everywhere; at Parc de Plaisance ducks and geese congregate in thousands during migratory periods. The Upper Ottawa River is wild and magnificent.

Madawaska River

Parts of the Madawaska River are famous whitewater routes, but there are very beautiful rowing stretches such as:
• Lake of Two Rivers - Whitney (The two portages over dams are short. You must obtain Algonquin Park use permits.)
• Kamanwaska Waterway: Barry’s Bay on Lake Kamaniskeg-Combermere - Conroy’s Marsh
• Griffith - Centennial Lake
• Centennial Lake - Black Donald Lake
• Springtown (below Calabogie) - Burnstown Rowing Club - Stewartville

Grand River

The Grand River in South Western Ontario was declared a Canadian Heritage River in 1994. The southern section below Brantford has vestiges of the Grand River Navigation Company canal and locks. In Spring the Grand River is navigable for kayaks, at least, (with a few portages) from Elora to Port Maitland. However the low water in the summer interrupts navigation. Good rowing choices at all seasons are in the lower Grand River:
• Cayuga - Dunnville (Disembark before the Dunnville dam and weirs which are very dangerous)

• Dunnville - Port Maitland on Lake Erie
The Haldimand Grand River Rowing Club is located at Cayuga.

Other Rivers

The Saguenay River in Quebec offers fiord vistas. Scout out the River well before embarking on your trip because the river is subject to tides and has steep shores which limit the put-in places.
The Saint Jean River in New Brunswick is a majestic river in a beautif
ul river valley. The section from Perth-Andover to the Mactaquac Dam is more a long lake and excellent for rowing. From the Fredericton to Saint John, at the reversing falls, is another uninterrupted long segment.

Lakes in Regions

Haliburton has two interesting chains of lakes for rowers:
• Gull River (Pine Lake, Green Lake, Maple Lake, Beech Lake, Boshung Lake)
• Drag River (Head Lake, Grass Lake, Lake Kashagawigamog, Canning Lake)
As well Gull Lake south of Minden has strong r
owing potential.

Algonquin Park, apart from the lakes on the Madawaska River, has many rowable lakes. The most accessible are Canoe Lake and Smoke Lake which are connected via the Oxtongue River and a stump filled creek. The Canoe Lake access point has a restaurant with washrooms.

Hastings Highlands has beautiful rounded hills. Benoit Lake, Elephant Lake, and Baptiste Lake are part of the York River system. Further south and east is Bon Echo Provincial Park in which lies Upper and Lower Mazinaw lakes. Petroglyphs (Aboriginal sacred paintings) can be found at canoe level on Mazinaw Rock.

Muskoka has beautiful lakes including Lake Joseph and Lake Rosseau connected to Lake Muskoka by Indian River which has a canal and lock at Port Carling, the home of Hatchets Training Centre. Around Huntsville, Lake Vernon, Fairy Lake, and Mary Lake are connected, though the route to the south through the Muskoka River to Mary Lake has locks. In Southern Muskoka, Lake Kahshe is beautiful and is quite rowable, if you are careful for the rocks.

The Near North hosted the 2012 FISA World Tour. Specifically this big international event occurred on the West Arm of Lake Nipissing, in the French River estuary, and at Lake Ramsay, home of the Sudbury Rowing Club. The West Arm of Lake Nipissing is a jewel for rowing – it is like a sheltered lake with beautiful northern scenery.

Apart from the Rideau Canal lakes and Madawaska River lakes, Eastern Ontario has rowable lakes, such as Sharbot, Moira, Third Depot, Charleston, and Mississippi. All of these are large enough to have a very enjoyable full day of rowing.

In Quebec, Laurentian lakes (e.g., Lac St. Joseph) , Outaouais lakes and reservoirs (Lac Ste. Marie, Lac Poisson Blanc Reservoir, Lac Simon), Lakes of the Cantons de l’Est (Eastern Townships) (Lac Memphremagog, Lac Massawippi) and Appalachian lakes (Lac Temiskouata) are eminently rowable. In the Maritimes there is Grand Lake (N.B.) and Kejimkujik Lake (N.S.) in the park of the same name.

Rowing in Lake Ontario is not recommended for most shells except under good meteorological conditions or with good support. A new class of boats called coastal rowing boats can handle, under most conditions, coastal areas of the Great Lakes and Lac St. Jean as well as coastal waters of the St. Lawerence River/Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence/Northumberland Strait.

Other Adventure Rowing Clubs are situated on Kempenfelt Bay (Barrie Rowing Club) of Lake Simcoe, Guelph Lake (Guelph Rowing Club), Lake Ontario (Hanlan Boat Club in Toronto’s Outer Harbour), and Georgian Bay (Collingwood and Georgian Bay Rowing Clubs). As well the Don Rowing Club is located very close to Lake Ontario where the Credit River flows into the Lake.


Canada is a mecca for long distance rowing. The best distance routes for multi-day tour are the Rideau Canal, Trent-Severn Waterway, Ottawa River, Richelieu River, and Saint John River. There are numerous routes for weekend or day trips on countless lakes.
Coastal rowing boats may open up the possibility of coastal routes, such as along Lake Ontario. There is already a coastal rowing marathon on Lac St. Jean.

This description of rowing routes is selective. For the most part, they represent routes rowed by members of the Ontario Adventure Rowing Association, sometimes in association with other clubs, e.g., Club Aviron d’Alma, Fredericton Rowing Club. Some areas are neglected, such as North-western Ontario with its Quetico Provincial Park and Lake of the Woods.
Initially check out your route carefully and have appropriate large scale maps or charts. It is important to have good touring, coastal, or open water boats. Carry good safety equipment (e.g., life jackets, whistle, bailer, flashlight). Above all carefully monitor the weather and make appropriate changes.
Good rowing!

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