The Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is at the heart of the National Capital Region’s identity. The lighting systems within the Rideau Canal corridor have deteriorated beyond their useful life. Large sections of lighting are no longer functional and other sections are at imminent risk of failure, creating health and safety concerns for the public.

The NCC, in collaboration with the City of Ottawa, is beginning work to replace or repair these systems. The work is expected to be completed in 2025.

Impact of work

There will be localized and temporary impacts on traffic, multiuse pathways and NCC programs during the project.

About the project 

This rehabilitation project focuses on the pathway and road lighting on both sides of the Rideau Canal: Colonel By Drive and Queen Elizabeth Driveway. The work area stretches from Heron Road, near Hog’s Back Park, to Mackenzie King Bridge, near Confederation Park. 

The project’s goals are to replace all pathway and parkway lights, including light heads, arms and bases. We will also replace and upgrade underground conduits and infrastructure. 

The improved lighting will both respect the historical character of the Rideau Canal and meet modern health and safety standards, greatly enhancing safety on the multiuse pathways along the Rideau Canal, Colonel By Drive and Queen Elizabeth Driveway. The new lighting will also be energy efficient, consistent with the NCC’s Capital Illumination Plan, which aims to enhance the Capital’s beauty and accessibility. 

Process and timeline

Phase 1 

Fall 2023–Summer 2024 

  • Directional drilling, trenching and electrical box installation  

Phase 2 

Summer 2024–Winter 2025 

  • Removal of existing lighting and installation of new fixtures  

Winter 2025 

  • Project completion 


The design of distinctive lampposts lining the canal—those with the white glass globe—dates back to 1916. They were first introduced by the Ottawa Improvement Commission, a predecessor to the NCC. Its superintendent of works at the time, Alexander Stuart, designed the lamps inspired by similar ones from Chicago. The design plays with horizontal and vertical elements in a manner reminiscent of acclaimed Chicago architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

The lampposts were intended to be elegant additions to the landscape during the day and night. They were first installed along the Rideau Canal Driveway (now Queen Elizabeth Driveway) as well as in parks such as Rockcliffe Park, Strathcona Park and Dundonald Park. In the 1960s, the NCC introduced another—now iconic—lamppost, with a thin black pole and a white globe light.

Over time, these two historic lamp designs have created a distinctive character along the Rideau Canal, both during the day and night. They contribute to some of the most significant views of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For more information

We will send quarterly updates and photos to local community associations and to interested individuals. To join our mailing list, please email


This major project involves the excavation and underground work of over 39 km, with work on new and existing infrastructure. It will improve lighting, meet modern health and safety standards, and greatly enhance safety on the multiuse pathways along the Rideau Canal.

The forecasted budget for this project is approximately $40 million, with a financial contribution from the City of Ottawa. The exact cost of the project will be known once it is completed.

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