|Poonamalie - Lock 32
photo by: Ken W. Watson
|A single lock provides 7.2 feet (2.2 m) of lift. This is a quiet solitude lock nestled in amongst cool cedar trees. The original official name of the lock was "First Rapids" since it is located near the first set of rapids on the Rideau River. However, a common local name at the time of construction was "Poonamallee," the name of a British garrison town in India. The story goes that the area reminded one of the soldiers working on the site of Poonamallee. The British Ordnance Department who built and ran the canal always referred to it as First Rapids. When the Rideau Canal was handed over to Upper Canada in 1856, it became officially known as Poonamallee (the common name used by locals for the lockstation) with the spelling later changing to Poonamalie.
There were several plans put forward for the lock in this location, but in the end the solution was to create a canal cut to the south of the rapids and to place a dam on the bedrock at the top of the rapids. The dam and weir, originally made of wood, is in a vulnerable position at the outlet of Lower Rideau Lake. It was breached twice, by flooding in 1868 and by a large sheet of ice ramming the dam in 1904, opening up a 75 foot breach. It was then rebuilt using concrete and rebuilt again in 1971 with a new concrete dam and a large hydraulic gate.
For a full history of the Poonamalie Lock see: History of the Poonamalie Lock
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