Canada vacation on the Rideau Canal

You have already been on the road many times in Europe and have seen a lot? If you would like to discover a new region, then we can only recommend a houseboat vacation in Ontario, Canada. Combine a visit to the capital Ottawa with beautiful Kingston on the shores of the Great Lakes with a trip on the Rideau Canal.

Lakes at the Rideau Canal

Whereby the term "canal" is actually misleading, because only a few of the 202km length are really man-made. For the most part, only short stretches of canal connect the rivers or lakes together. Despite or because of this, the Rideau Canal was and still is a technical masterpiece and deservedly belongs to the UNESCO world cultural heritage. This puts it on par with the Colosseum in Rome or Stonehenge in England.

We've compiled our top 5 highlights for your Canadian vacation on North America's longest continuously operating canal, the Rideau Canal, here:

  • North or south
  • Lakes and islands
  • Water sports
  • Fishing
  • Locks

1. North or south? You have the choice.

Our departure base in Smiths Falls is located in the middle of the Rideau Canal and from here you can start either north or south, depending on what you would like to experience on your Canadian vacation.

The northern tour

For all lovers of canals and rivers and local handicrafts, a drive towards Ottawa is a must. Along the Nature Lovers Tour your vacation will take you through beautiful landscapes. Take the chance to dock at one of the secluded locks like Kilmarnock and watch the deer graze in the morning.

Also plan a stop in Merrickville and stroll through the small town. Even if you're not a shopping fan, this place will delight you with its arts and crafts. Here you will certainly find a lot of things, but no common shops.

At the end of the canal, the capital of Canada, Ottawa, awaits you. You can dock right in the heart of the city within walking distance of Parliament Hill and explore the city. If you haven't had your fill of locks and boats, visit the Ottawa Locks, an impressive set of locks picturesquely nestled between Parliament and the historic Château Laurier Hotel. Other attractions include museums and galleries and, of course, the ByWard Market, a lively restaurant and bar district.

The Southern Tour

If you like to experience the vastness of the Canadian landscape on your vacation, then the southbound route is ideal for you. On the way to Seeley's Bay you can decide for yourself in which of the sweet places to stop.

How about a side trip to Perth for example? It's worth it, because the city is known for its beer and there is always something going on in the Irish Pubs. If you want to do another round of shopping, stop in Westport or Newboro. Some exciting and fancy stores are waiting here, like Kilborn's. The shopping munchies can hike up Foley Mountain and enjoy the view in the meantime.


Strengthen yourself on the further journey in the restaurant of the Oppinicon at Chaffeys Lockstation for the next stage or with one (or two) drinks on the terrace at the lake or with a big ice cream.

Fancy a longer tour? Then drive on to Kingston. On the shores of Lake Ontario, the town's boardwalk is a great place to stroll, and Thousand Island, a nature park in the st. St. Lawrence Stream, is definitely worth a trip. Or stroll through the market and discover the "City of Prisons" and its history on a walking tour of the city.

PS: If you can't decide, head just a bit north, z.B. to Merrickville and then turn around and also explore the lake area south of Smiths Falls.

2. Canadian lakes and islands – what a panoramic view

The lakes with their "fringed", tree-lined shores are an absolute highlight of the Rideau Canal vacation area. You have a wide view over the water and an undisturbed feeling, because you meet only few other boats.

The Lakes of the Rideau Canal from Above

The many islands (292 to be exact) look as if someone had spread them like sprinkles on a cake and make the lakes look even more exciting because you never know exactly what will appear behind the next island. But you have to pay more attention to the navigation, because the next marker is sometimes a bit further away. So keep your eyes open. But no need to worry, you are guaranteed to relax in this part of Canada.

Especially if you drop anchor in the evening and spend the night in one of the countless bays, away from the towns and alone under the starry sky, without any neighbors lying on the beach. Anchoring is a very special feeling that makes your houseboat vacation in Canada something very special, because you can only experience this in one other cruising area, in Germany.

3. Water sports – cooling down?

Where you can anchor, of course, you can also do great water sports. The lakes in this part of Canada are crystal clear and invite for swimming. Jump directly from the boat into the water or book one of our optional extras and paddle with kayaks or standup paddleboards through the nature of Canada. At many jetties you will also find bathing ladders and of course your houseboat also has a ladder so that you can easily get back on board at any time. This is how a boating vacation in Canada becomes a highlight for water rats! When you dock along the way, ask local people for their tips on the best places and bays to anchor and swim.

4. Fishing in Canada – dinner is waiting

Whether you're already an avid angler or want to give it a try. At the Rideau Canal lakes full of fish invite you to catch your own dinner. There is a reason why many Americans cross the border to Canada to fish in their boats during their summer vacation.

One of the best areas for fishing are the lakes around Seeley's Bay. At the town jetty you can spend a relaxing night (included in the booking) and set off on your fishing trips from here.

Of course you also need a fishing license during your vacation on the Rideau waterways. You can get them, for example, at the Rideau Breeze Marina nearby. Right next to the pier Shane White runs his store with fishing supplies (Fish and Fur), where you can get your license. On request you can also hire a local guide who will show you insider tips and the best fishing spots in the area. Good luck!

5. Locks on the Rideau Canal – history at your fingertips

Lock near Smiths Falls

Whether you're an experienced houseboat captain or a newcomer on board, you'll love the locks along the Rideau Canal. They are usually much higher than in Europe and always perfectly maintained, because at each lock station 2-4 lockkeepers take care of the lock and the boat vacationers. They take the ropes, operate the locks and bring you relaxed and safe through the up to 8 lock chambers at a time.

Nowhere do past and present mix like at the locks, because even today all lock gates are still made of wood, which is processed in our base town Smiths Falls. And the iron fittings are still handmade like 200 years ago. Visit the blacksmith at Jones Falls lock station and watch him work. He will also be happy to tell you more about his work.

The boats – our Canada fleet

Family on the Horizon boat

Le Boat brings a fleet of the newest boats to the Rideau Canal. Horizon boats accommodate from two to 10 people. They are luxuriously & modernly equipped and can be easily steered with the bow and stern thruster. All boats feature a spacious salon, separate sleeping cabins, showers with hot and cold running water, and fully equipped kitchens. From cutlery and crockery to bed linen and towels everything is ready on board.

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