Itineraries and experiences
Carillon Canal National Historic Site
On the Ottawa River, the imposing structures of the Carillon Canal National Historic Site and of the Hydro-Québec power plant are an impressive site to see. The only one of its kind in North America, the Carillon lock has a guillotine gate that is opened by a counterweight of almost 200 tonnes. It is moored to floating docks installed in the centre of the lock that boats navigate a drop of over 20 metres (65 feet) in less than 45 minutes! It's an experience well worth the detour!
The Carillon Canal: a colossus to discover
Opened in 1833, the Carillon Canal made it possible to bypass the Ottawa River rapids. Originally built for military purposes, the canal was used for commercial ends from the beginning. Today, the role of this major work that replaced the first canal system's eleven locks is mainly touristic, and many pleasure boaters use it to get to Ottawa and visit the beautiful Montebello region. Several historical elements are still present on the shores of the canal, such as the remains of lock No. 1 and the superintendent's and toll collector's houses. Furthermore, numerous attractions and services are available close by.
To observe the spectacular operation of the lock and have a picnic outdoors, Carillon Park is an ideal location with its beautiful natural surroundings. Stop and take the opportunity to rest, take a walk, or go on a bike ride on VéloRoute d’Argenteuil, part of Route verte No. 1.
Carillon Generating Station
During the summer season, from Wednesday to Sunday, Hydro-Québec invites you to visit the Carillon Generating Station, the most powerful hydroelectric generating station on the Ottawa River. Visit the Hydro-Québec website or call 1-800-365-5229 to plan your visit.
Voyageur Provincial Park
Just next to the Carillon Canal, above the lock, you can access the Voyageur Provincial Park in Ontario, which has beaches, picnic areas, campsites, hiking trails, and much more. Find out how to get there by boat by visiting Voyageur Park website.
Argenteuil Regional Museum
Located at the Carillon Barracks National Historic Site, the Argenteuil Regional Museum presents various exciting exhibitions that recount the history of the Argenteuil region. Do not miss the new permanent exhibition, Argenteuil, ma vie comme rivières. For more information, please visit the museum's website (French only).
Carillon Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Fascinated by birds? The Carillon Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary, located below the Carillon Canal, next to Rigaud, is a protected area that provides a habitat for a great diversity of species like the mallard, the American black duck, the Canada goose, and the blue-winged teal. For further information, visit Environment Canada's website.
Small loop to this summer’s greatest events!
Don’t miss a beat this summer! Head to the small loop that winds its way through Parks Canada’s network of waterways to be in the front row for this summer’s must-attend events.
Montréal’s festival season
June marks the beginning of Montréal’s festival season. The Lachine Canal is where it’s at for the Canadian Grand Prix, the Francofolies, or Montréal’s International Jazz Festival.
The metropolis comes to life day and night, and docking is available at the many Parks Canada wharfs located along the waterway. Enjoy a walk or a bike ride along the canal’s 14.5-km of path between two shows and take in the natural landscape and breathtaking view of downtown Montréal.
Keep an eye out for food trucks to enjoy a typical Montréal culinary experience.
Vintage and romantic stops
After crossing Lake Saint-Louis, head towards the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal for a romantic evening.
With its beautiful boardwalk and numerous restaurants and bistros, it’s no surprise that this lock is the busiest in Canada!
Mooring services are available on site, both upstream and downstream. Also in June, don’t miss out on Cruisin’ at the Boardwalk, with an atmosphere reminiscent of the 1950s and 1960s and roughly 500 classic cars on display.
Once your hunger is satisfied, cross Lake des Deux-Montagnes towards the Ottawa River. Known as one of the most beautiful rivers in North America, it features amazing and varied landscapes and numerous inviting stops along the way.
The road winds up to the Carillon Canal, where a picnic in the park while watching Canada’s highest lock and its vertical lift gate, which weighs nearly 200 tons, is a must.
Party in the nation’s capital!
At the beginning of July, it’s Ottawa’s turn to sway to the rhythm of major events. For the ultimate experience in the nation’s capital, celebrate Canada Day on Parliament Hill. A few days later, the Bluesfest will host performances by great blues singers during one of the country’s largest music festivals.
The adventure continues at the Rideau Canal, a treasured jewel of UNESCO’s World Heritage list surrounded by pastoral landscapes and small historic towns. After arriving in Kingston, you’ll reach Lake Ontario, at the crossroads of the St. Lawrence Seaway. From there, the wild landscape spreads across the Thousand Islands National Park, which supports a rich biodiversity, and you can maneuver through a series of rock islands until you reach Brockville.
Gently navigate down the St. Lawrence River and its ever-changing river banks to return to Montréal, where the International des Feux Loto-Québec is in full swing. Once you’re in the Lachine Canal, settle in to a nice spot somewhere in the Old Port to admire the fantastic lights show.
Where magic happens
In August, round out your day trip by heading for the Richelieu River to attend the International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and watch the enchanting hot air balloons from a different viewpoint on the water. The rich program will have something for everyone.
While crossing the Saint-Ours Canal, stop at Darvard Island to take in the uniqueness of its lush flora and its characteristic hills. Before you reach Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, let yourself be charmed by the Chambly Canal’s natural setting, where you can see part of our heritage come to life before your very eyes with authentic replicas from the past, such as its manually-operated locks and bridges.
Enjoy your trip!
Here are a few nautical itineraries and their approximate distances between towns along the way. These circuits will take you through most of the Northeastern inland waterways including the Chambly, Saint-Ours, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Lachine (retrictions may apply), Carillon and Rideau canals.
Estimated nautical distances
Montréal to Sorel = 70 km
Sorel to Chambly = 70 km
Chambly to Lake Champlain = 55 km
Chambly to New York = 520 km
Montréal to Québec = 250 km
Montréal to Ottawa = 180 km
Montréal to Kingston = 275 km
Montréal to Toronto = 500 km
Estimated nautical circuits
Montréal, Ottawa, Rideau Canal, Kingston, St. Lawrence River, Montréal = 655 km
Montréal, Chambly, Lake Champlain, Champlain Canal, Erie Canal, Oswego Canal, St. Lawrence River, Montréal = 1000 km
Montréal, Chicago, Mississippi, Miami, New York, Chambly, Montréal = 7 500 km
- Montréal to New York - 5 days
- Montréal to the Rideau Canal,
returning via the St. Lawrence Seaway - 7 days
- Grand Circuit Nautique, omitting the Rideau Canal
(returning by the St. Lawrence Seaway) - 2 weeks
- Grand Circuit Nautique, including the Rideau Canal - 3 weeks
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