Ontario and the Rideau Canal
10 July 2019
The approach to Ottowa by boat is mighty impressive. Parliament and Chateau Laurier dominate the skyline while the The Flight Of Eight appears as a grand staircase. These step locks lifted us up 79 feet to the heart of Ottowa and is the entrance to the Rideau Canal. Once at the top boats line the canal walls and have easy access to sightseeing and markets. The process took us 2 hours and celebratory blender drinks were whipped up as soon as we were secured and connected to power. This day was the hottest day we had encountered this season, made hotter by the environment of the locks and big city buildings. Once the air conditioning was humming and we had that frothy rum drink in our hands we were able to appreciate that we only had to maneuver the boat and hold mooring lines while the college students on their summer jobs were hand cranking every lock.
Ottowa is the capital of Canada and our arrival was just after the national holiday, the city was still bustling with tourists. The stunning historic buildings of Parliament Hill are over a century old and undergoing a multi year refurbishment. Our visit to Notre Dame Basilica was one of the high points, several decades older than the parliament, the exterior is stately but it is the interior that really takes your breath away. The oldest and largest basilica in Ontario, it is brightly painted, has ornate stained glass and hundreds of statues. We happened upon visiting during organ practice and the sound was heavenly.
Built in 1832, the Rideau Canal is 126 miles long, and has 47 total locks (we transverse 45), almost all of which are hand still cranked. A UNESCO World Heritage Site! Our leisurely pace took us through small towns and amazing scenery. Numerous option for overnight docking at the locks and several had power available to run the welcome air conditioning. Hot days cooling off at nights make perfect boating weather!
So there is this thing in on Ontario called a Butter Tart. They even have a Butter Tart Festival and bakers vie for the best tart award. Completely absent in Quebec, the second we entered Ontario there they were. Butter Tarts! My first experience was sickly sweet, runny and a mediocre crust. I didn't get loopers obsession with these little pies. However, on one of our lunch stops on the Rideau there was a visitors center that sold butter tarts from an award winning bakery in town. Now this was a tart I could appreciate. Flaky crust held a perfect balance of sweetness and flavor. Think pecan pie and you would be in the general area but not quite there yet...
Those that read my posts will know that I am a huge fan of the United States National Park System. I must say however that Canada's parks are incredible as well! The use of all of these locks and docks to moor to overnight were well worth the price of the season passes we purchased.
Everyone has been wonderful, everyday has been wonderful, even the rainy days are wonderful.
What a life!