It’s February, Ontario, and that means Ottawa’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal, turns into a skating rink for commuters and pleasure-seekers alike.
Rideau is the French word for curtain, and in the case of the Rideau Canal the name refers to the appearance of the Rideau Falls, which look like curtains.
At 202 kilometres long, the canal was built as a defence against invasion by the United States following the War of 1812 and opened formally in 1832.
Today, the canal is orientated around pleasure — railroads removed the need to transport goods via canal, and in summertime, there are plenty of small pleasure craft motoring about.
However, everyone in Ontario knows winter is when it’s time for fun on the canal! Taken in its entirety, the Rideau Canal Skateway is almost the size of 90 Olympic-sized rinks and is 7.8 kilometres long. The ice is maintained during its season (and replenished when necessary) twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
The Rideau Canal Skateway is currently open, the same as every year, with a few precautions in place. (Check out The National Capital Commission guidelines before you go.)
The Rideau Canal is so popular as an alternative commuting option, radio stations still report on its traffic every day, and it all takes place during Winterlude.
For those not familiar with Rideau Canal’s history, a visit to Ottawa’s oldest stone building — the Bytown Museum — is worth a visit.
It contains stories of the people who built the canal, including some who died during its construction, and even a history of how the building was used. First, it was a storehouse for the project; later, it was a treasury for the same and now serves as a record of the history surrounding Rideau Canal.
Pictures abound online of people enjoying Canada’s most unique commute — love birds holding hands, kids doing circles around people not as steady on their feet, and tourists of all ages love it.
How about you, Ontario? What is your favourite story about the Rideau Canal Skateway? Do you have pictures to share? If so, post them here in the comments; we’d love to see them!