Learn-to Paddle program

Rideau Canal National Historic Site

About the program
Beginners and paddlers of all backgrounds welcome!

Join Parks Canada this summer at Hartwells Lock in Ottawa for a free Learn-to Paddle program. Our experienced paddle team will introduce visitors to the techniques of paddling on the Rideau Canal, then give everyone a chance to get into a canoe along trained staff and practice their skills in a safe environment. It's a fun way to meet new people and discover a great outdoor activity.

What we provide

  • Free 90-minute lesson
  • Canoe and paddle
  • Personal flotation device
  • Small waterproof bag to store your personal items

What you will learn

  • Basic canoe techniques
  • How to control a canoe in calm waters
  • Safety rules
Parks Canada is pleased to offer this program in both English and French
2024 program details

Free to register

  • 5 departures daily;
  • Bookings open 2 weeks in advance of date
Register here

Contact us for more information about this program:

Getting here

Parking: Available on site, hourly fees apply

Cyclists: Bike racks are available for participants; bring your own lock

Public transportation: Available nearby

Know before you go

Learn-to Paddle is aimed at beginners with little or no experience, but good physical condition is necessary to paddle properly. The activity is not suitable for people with reduced mobility. Before registering for a Learn-to Paddle session, please review the information below.

Booking conditions:
  • One family/bubble per canoe
  • Groups must be composed of at least 2 people who are physically able to paddle:
    • 2 adults max. per canoe, or;
    • 1 adult and 1 youth (aged 10 years and older)
    • Children under 10 must be accompanied by 2 adults or; 1 adult and 1 youth
  • Minimum age required is 5-years-old
  • The activity is not recommended for people who can't swim and/or are afraid of water
  • Animals are not allowed in the canoes
  • Restrooms and picnic tables are available at the lockstation
  • No potable water on site
  • We reserve the right to cancel any repeat bookings given the limited capacity to the program

How to prepare

  • We will confirm your booking with you 24hrs ahead of your participation
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before the activity starts
  • You must bring your own water bottle, hat, sunscreen and snacks
  • Wear weather-appropriate clothing

Learn-to Paddle 2023 Learn-to Paddle 2023

Learn-to Paddle 2022 Learn-to Paddle 2022

Program partner

Mountain Equipment Company (MEC) encourages Canadians of all ages to experience the outdoors and have a connection to nature. They are a leading retailer with 21 stores across the country serving more than 6 million members.

Mountain Equipment Company

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