Visit Ontario, Canada, to cruise or skate the Rideau Canal
Canals might be associated most with European destinations like Venice and Amsterdam, but the historic Rideau Canal offers adventurers on a tour of Canada an unparalleled way to travel through Ontario.
The 123-mile canal was constructed following the War of 1812 to give the British a supply route between the cities of Ottawa and Kingston should another war erupt with the United States. The story of the canal's construction, which involved more than 4,000 workers, is fascinating, and visitors can take it in at the Rideau Canal Museum in Smith Falls. The museum, housed in a converted mill, showcases many artifacts dating from the river's construction and its years as a trade route.
The canal is now mostly used as a recreational waterway, a purpose that suits it perfectly, given the scenic route it follows. Writing about a trip along the Rideau in The New York Times, the newspaper's chief cultural correspondent described idyllic days and peaceful nights spent in the company of beavers, frogs, otters, bass and other river creatures. The canal also provides a memorable way to enter the Canadian capital of Ottawa, where the fir trees lining the canal's banks are replaced by tall buildings and busy streets.
Winter is an especially magical time on the canal, when the water freezes and the Rideau becomes the world's longest skating rink.