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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.

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