|Kawartha Voyageur at Jones Falls
photo by: Ken W. Watson, 2004
The only cruise ship operating today that traverses the length of the Rideau, the Kawartha Voyageur has been designed to exactly fit into the length of a Rideau lock. To do this, it pulls the neat trick of folding up its bow. Passengers on board are treated to great hospitality, wonderful food and of course the terrific scenery of the Rideau on the five day (one way) cruise between Kingston and Ottawa.
The Kawartha Voyageur is a modern day reincarnation of the "palace steamer"; passenger vessels designed to fit into a Rideau lock. A vessel has to be less than 111 feet in length to allow room for the gates to swing inside the lock. At 120 feet long the Kawartha Voyageur would never fit. But with the bow raised, its length is reduced to 108 feet, allowing it to traverse the locks with ease.
The glory days of Rideau cruise ships was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when "palace steamers" plied the route. In 1887, a five day round trip aboard the Ella Ross, from Montreal to Ottawa, down the Rideau to Kingston and then back to Montreal on the St. Lawrence cost $18.00 (a cabin and meals were included in the price). The last of these steamers, the Ottawan, did its final run in 1935.
These steamers were designed to take maximum advantage of a Rideau Lock. The Ella Ross was 99.2 feet long by 27.8 feet wide, the Kathleen was 105.4 feet long by 26.4 feet wide, the Rideau King was 107 feet long by 23.4 feet wide and the Rideau Queen and the Ottawan were both 108 feet long by 24 feet wide.
Along The Rideau
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