When Colonel By arrived in Canada in 1826 he immediately saw the potential of the Rideau Canal not only as a military route, but also as an essential link in a great commercial transportation system linking the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean thereby assuring Britain military and commercial control of the Great Lakes. Instead of a small military canal, By envisioned a commercial waterway able to accommodate steam boats, the vessel of the future. His foresight established the Canal as a viable commercial waterway for over 100 years.

Today, as the Canal is approaching 170 years of continuous use we look to the future with a plan to attain a vision of preserving this remarkable engineering achievement through the stewardship of Parks Canada in co-operation with all those who cherish its historic and natural values.

The Rideau King at the Narrows
The Rideau King at the Narrows
Rideau Canal Photo Collection

The Rideau King provided regular passenger service between Ottawa and Kingston 100 years ago.

3.1 Vision for the Future

Parks Canada’s vision for the Rideau Canal is an expression of what the Canal should be in the future. It is an update of the vision in the 1996 plan. It is based on Parks Canada’s mandate for the Rideau Canal and input from stakeholders who have made it clear what they value about the Canal and what they want it to be in the future. The vision establishes an ideal state which Parks Canada and Canal stakeholders are striving to attain. The vision can be attained through the implementation of the actions in the management plan.

  • Canadians, residents and visitors cherish the Rideau Canal as a symbol of Canada’s identity and take pride in their contribution to preserving this national treasure for future generations.
  • The cultural and natural resources under the stewardship of Parks Canada are protected for the benefit of this and future generations.
  • Residents of the Canal corridor  value and protect  the unique cultural and natural heritage character and scenic beauty of  the Canal corridor  through the co-operative efforts of stakeholder groups, government agencies, public and private sector partnerships, municipal land use policies, and private stewardship.
  • The Canal’s tradition as a fully functional navigable historic waterway is maintained.
  • The Rideau Canal is a valuable tourism and recreational resource contributing substantially to the economy of eastern Ontario. Canal corridor tourism partners work together to promote the Rideau Heritage Route as a unique cultural heritage experience and provide quality services and facilities for visitors.
  • Parks Canada and heritage interests together present the story of the Canal and its communities resulting in greater awareness, understanding and appreciation of the heritage values of the Canal corridor.
  • The values of the Rideau Waterway Canadian Heritage River are widely understood and protected through public and private stewardship.
  • Rideau Canal staff are proud of their stewardship role and through their actions display leadership in resource protection, sustainable use, and heritage presentation.
The “Quarters” - a scenic narrow channel near Jones Falls
The “Quarters” - a scenic narrow channel near Jones Falls - Manuel Stevens, Parks Canada

Scenic narrow channels should be preserved for their natural beauty.

3.2 Guiding Principles   

These guiding principles provide a framework for public and private decision-making activities. It is vital that these principles be understood, accepted and applied to guide all private and public activities if the vision for the Rideau Canal corridor is to be achieved.

  • The historic values, natural features, scenic beauty and diversity of cultural landscapes of the Canal corridor constitute its unique heritage character and should be respected by government, commercial interests and private residents.
  • through-navigation is a valued means by which to promote public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the heritage values of the Canal.
  • The Rideau Canal should contribute to tourism and recreation as a major component of the corridor economy.
  • The public and private sector shall co-operate to provide a range of high quality facilities and services for visitors.
  • Development of the shore-land and on lands adjoining Canal lands should respect the historic and scenic character of the Canal landscape, and be environmentally sustainable and not conflict with navigation.
Long Island Lockstation

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