Ontario's Historical Plaques 

Discover Ontario's history as told through its plaques

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The Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal

Photo by contributor Colin Old - Posted January, 2015

Rideau Canal

Photo by contributor Colin Old - Posted January, 2015

Rideau Canal

Photo Source - Wikipedia

Plaque Location

The City of Ottawa
Below the Plaza Bridge alongside the canal
on the westside footpath

Coordinates: N 45 25.458 W 75 41.677


Plaque Text

Built between 1826 and 1832, the Rideau Canal is the best-preserved, fully operational example from North America's great canal-building era. Lieutenant-Colonel John By's innovative design was based on a "slackwater" system that linked lakes and rivers on a scale unprecedented in North America. The result was one of the first canals in the world engineered for steam-powered vessels. Its construction through more than 200 kilometres of bush, swamps, and lakes was a monumental feat. Each year, as many as 5,000 workers, mainly Irish immigrants and French Canadians, toiled under the supervision of civil contractors and the Royal Engineers. Working in extremely difficult conditions, they endured injury and disease, and hundreds died. This fortified waterway was intended as a safe military supply route between Montréal and Lake Ontario by providing an alternative to the St. Lawrence River. It chiefly served as a key artery for moving goods and people until the 1850s and became a popular recreation destination in the 20th century. The Rideau Canal was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2007.

A duplicate of this plaque can be found in Jones Falls.

Related Ontario plaques
Rideau Canal 1826-1832
The Rideau Waterway
Lieutenant-Colonel John By, R.E.
The Royal Sappers and Miners



Ottawa Plaques

Here are the visitors' comments for this page.

Posted January 21, 2015
There is always a lag between the designation of a site/event/person and erection of a federal plaque. In some cases, the gap is relatively narrow. The founding of the Canadian Navy was designated a national historic event in May 2012. Six months later, its plaque was unveiled in Halifax.
Contrast that with the St. Ours Canal in Quebec, designated a national historic site in 1929, and still apparently waiting for its plaque, 86 years later. Text has been approved, but there is still no marker in place.
The one on this page replaces one that was on top of a nearby bridge close to the Chateau Laurier Hotel. It was along a busy sidewalk overlooking the Ottawa step locks--a much more visible and scenic location. It was removed or stolen, and there was no plaque there for years. It's good to welcome this one back into the family after a long absence (along with a sibling in Jones Falls), even if it's in a less desirable location (perhaps dictated by the space needed for more text). Now to catch up on scores of other unmarked designations. -Wayne

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