Authors: Heather Thomson and Pascale Guindon

The Rideau Canal is one of the defining landmarks of the National Capital Region. This beloved waterway is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, a national historic site of Canada, and a Canadian heritage river.

This engineering marvel is an icon cherished for its beauty, living history, heritage, and the recreational opportunities it brings to the region. We owe some of its legacy to visionaries who made decisions that had a lasting impact over the past 125 years.

This post pays tribute to their influence, specifically on the Ottawa corridor of the Rideau Canal.

Recent projects

In more recent decades, many plans and projects have continued to bring the Rideau Canal to life and beautify the Capital. Many architects have lent their talents to the canal landscape, all while conserving its valued heritage sites.

Notable developments include:

  • the new convention centre;
  • the Corkstown and Flora footbridges;
  • the rejuvenation of the National Arts Centre; and
  • the conversion of the former Union Station building to Senate headquarters.

A project is currently underway to renew the lighting along the canal. This project will conserve the canal’s iconic lamps, which have become character-defining elements along the shores of this historic waterway.

More to come

The NCC is working with Parks Canada and the City of Ottawa on a cultural landscape study of the Ottawa urban section of the Rideau Canal corridor. Over 2,600 people responded to our online survey and hundreds came out to our pop-up consultation sessions. The study will help outline heritage values and character-defining elements, as well as ways to enhance and protect them now and into the future.

We look forward to what the next 125 years will bring!

About the photos

  1. Horse and carriage on the Driveway, 1910. Credit: Canada. Dept. of Mines and Technical Surveys / Library and Archives Canada / PA-023224
  2. Frederick Todd in 1909.
  3. Bank Street Bridge over the canal, July 1944. Credit: National Capital Commission
  4. Glass-globe lamppost along the canal, circa 1920s. Credit: National Capital Commission
  5. Dows Lake Causeway. Credit: Special Report of the Ottawa Improvement Commission
  6. Tulips at Dows Lake, May 1958. Credit: Library and Archives Canada / E999914000
  7. The east bank of the Rideau Canal before railway removal and the construction of the Colonel By Drive extension. Credit: National Capital Commission.
  8. Douglas Fullerton skating on the canal.
  9. Cover photo: The east bank of the Rideau Canal after the construction of Colonel By Drive extension. Credit: National Capital Commission.

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