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Statistics of the Rideau Canal

For all you number hounds out there, here are the statistics on the Rideau Canal System. Please note that in most cases I've separated out the Tay Canal (Beveridges Locks) from the Rideau Canal. On this page you will find information about general Rideau Canal Statistics, information about Rideau Route Statistics, and information about 2015 and 2014 Vessel Passage Statistics.

Rideau Canal Statistics

Lock Dimensions (1)41 metres/134 feet long by 10 metres/33 feet wide
Available Water Depth (2)1.5 metres/5.0 feet (minimum)
Minimum Bridge Clearance (3)6.7 metres/22.0 feet (minimum)
Total Locks (Kingston - Ottawa)45 (47 including the 2 locks on the Tay Canal)
Total Lockstations23 (24 including Beveridges on the Tay Canal)
       See "How the Locks Are Counted" below
Total Distance (Kingston - Ottawa) (4)202 kilometres/125.6 miles
Total Distance of Artificial Channels19 kilometres/12 miles
Lift - ascending Ottawa to Upper Rideau Lake83.8 metres/275 feet (in 31 locks)
Lift - descending Upper Rideau to Kingston50.6 metres/166.2 feet (in 14 locks)
Maximum Size of Vessel (5)27.4 m/90 ft. length, 7.9m/26 ft. width, 6.7m/22ft height
Transit Time (one way)4 to 6 days
Maximum Depth of Water100.3 metres (329 feet)




(1) This is the full length of the lock from the point of the upper sill to the point of the lower sill. The lock is actually 124 feet (37.8 m) long in the chamber, measured from the point of the lower sill to the face of the breastwork. The lower gates require 13 feet (4.0 m) of room for their swing, so a vessel must be less than 111 feet (33.8 m) long. Since the walls of the lock slope inwards, the internal width at the lower navigation water level in the locks is 31.5 feet (9.6 m).

(2) Normally the locks are maintained with a draught of 1.7 metres (5.5 feet). However even the 5 foot minimum is subject to water availability and all vessels with a draught of over 1.2 metres (4 feet) should contact the Rideau Canal Office prior to traversing the canal.

(3) This is the minimum fixed bridge clearance on the Rideau Canal proper. On the Tay Canal, the Craig Street fixed bridge, at 2.1 metres/7 feet limits boats going right into downtown Perth (larger boats can tie up at Last Duel Park near downtown).

(4) Distances reflect the Rideau Canal proper. The Tay Canal, which is connected to the Rideau, extends from Lower Rideau Lake to Perth, a distance of 10.0 kilometres (6.2 miles). Two locks (Beveridges #33 & Beveridges #34) raise boats a total of 7.0 metres (22.9 feet) into the Tay Canal.

(5) The Canal used to allow boats with a length of 33.5 metres (110 feet) and a width of 9.1 metres (30 feet) width to traverse the system. If your vessel is less than these dimensions, but greater than the maximum shown in the chart, contact the Rideau Canal Office .


How the Locks Are Counted

When the canal was opened in May, 1832, there were 47 masonry locks that provided navigation from Kingston to Ottawa. In reality, only 46 locks actually provided the navigation since one of the two locks at Hogs Back was (and still is) a guard lock (a flood guard, it normally doesn't provide any lift). But that is picking nits, so we'll leave the count at 47. In the late 1880s, two locks (Beveridges) were constructed at the entrance to the Tay Canal. Although not part of the Rideau Canal proper, they are administered by the Rideau Canal Office - so although the number of locks required for Kingston to Ottawa navigation didn't change, administratively, 2 more locks were added (total 49). In the 1970s, a new single lock (29a) replaced the flight of 3 Smiths Falls Combined locks. This reduced the actual number of Kingston to Ottawa navigation locks to 45 and the total locks administered by the Rideau Canal Office to 47. This is the situation today.

In terms of Lockstations, the present day Kingston to Ottawa navigation lockstations number 23 - they are: Ottawa (8 locks in flight), Hartwells (2 locks in flight), Hogs Back (1 lift lock, 1 guard lock), Black Rapids (1 lock), Long Island (3 locks in flight), Burritts Rapids (1 lock), Nicholsons (2 detached locks), Clowes (1 lock), Merrickville (3 detached locks), Kilmarnock (1 lock), Edmunds (1 lock), Old Slys (2 locks in flight), Smiths Falls Combined (1 lock), Smiths Falls Detached (1 lock), Poonamalie (1 lock), Narrows (1 lock), Newboro (1 lock), Chaffeys (1 lock), Davis (1 lock), Jones Falls (3 locks in flight, 1 detached), Upper Brewers (2 locks in flight), Lower Brewers (1 lock), Kingston Mills (3 locks in flight, 1 detached). The lift statistics for those locks can be seen in the next section.

Parks Canada quotes 24 lockstations since they are counting in the Beveridges (2 detached locks) on the Tay Canal.


Rideau Canal - Route Statistics

The distances shown are following the marked navigation channel (shown on Charts 1512 and 1513).

Distance
km (miles) from
OTTAWA
Distance
km (miles) from
KINGSTON
Description
Lock Lift
metres (feet)
Bridge Clearance
metres (feet)
Chart
Boat
Launch
0 (0) 202.1 (125.6)Ottawa River, Ottawa level=40.8m
(134 ft)
    
0 (0)202.1 (125.6)Ottawa Locks #1-8 (in flight) 24.1 (79.1)  1512 #1 
0.3 (0.2)201.8 (125.4)Bridge - Plaza - Fixed  7.9 (25.6)   
0.6 (0.4)201.5 (125.2)Bridge - Mackenzie King - Fixed  8.2 (26.6)   
0.9 (0.5)201.2 (125.0)Bridge - Laurier Ave - Fixed  8.2 (26.6)   
1.6 (1.0)200.5 (124.6)Bridge - Corktown Foot Bridge - Fixed  8.2 (26.6)   
2.4 (1.5)199.7 (124.1)Bridge - Queensway - Fixed  7.1 (23)   
2.6 (1.6)199.5 (124.0)Bridge 1 - Pretoria Ave - Vertical Lift  3 (10) closed - 7 (22.7) open   
4.5 (2.8)197.6 (122.8)Bridge - Bank St. - Fixed  8.8 (28.5)   
5.5 (3.4) 196.6 (122.2)Bridge - Bronson Ave - Fixed  6.7 (22.0)   
6.7 (4.2)195.4 (121.4)Hartwells Locks #9-10 (in flight) 6.5 (21.5)    
8.2 (5.1)193.9 (120.5)Bridge - Heron Rd - Fixed  8.5 (27.6)   
8.4 (5.2)193.7 (120.4)Hogs Back Locks #11-12 (1 lift, 1 guard) 4.2 (13.8)   X
8.4 (5.2)193.7 (120.4)Bridge 4 - Hogs Back - Swing  2.9 (9.4)   
11.9 (7.4)190.2 (118.2)Bridge - CNR High Level - Fixed  9.5 (30.8)   
13.5 (8.4)188.6 (117.2)Bridge - Hunt Club - Fixed  >16.0 (>50)   
15.0 (9.3)187.1 (116.3)Black Rapids Lock #13 2.9 (9.5)    
16.0 (10.0)186.1 (115.6)Park - Echo Lands     X
20.7 (12.9)181.4 (112.7)Park - Chapman Mills Conservation Area      
21.0 (13.0)181.1 (112.5) Bridge - Vimy Memorial - Fixed  6.7 (22)   
23.3 (14.5)178.8 (111.1)Long Island Locks #14-16 (in flight) 7.6 (24.9)  1512 #2 
23.5 (14.6)178.6 (111.0)Bridge 5 - Long Island - Swing  1.1 (3.6)   
26.0 (16.2)176.1 (109.4)Bridge - Manotick High Level - Fixed  6.7 (22)   
36.5 (22.7)165.6 (102.9)Bridge - Kars High Level - Fixed  6.7 (22)   
37.4 (23.3)164.7 (102.3)Kars Public Wharf     X
39.9 (24.8)162.2 (100.8)Park - W.A. Taylor Conservation Area     X
44.6 (27.7)157.5 (97.9)Park - Baxter Conservation Area      
46.7 (29.0)155.4 (96.6)Bridge - Hwy 416 High Level - Fixed  6.7 (22)   
49.9 (31.0)152.2 (94.6)Channel to Kemptville**  3.4 (11)**   
50.9 (31.6)151.2 (94.0)Park - Rideau River Provincial     X
52.1 (32.4)150.0 (93.2)Bridge - Becketts High Level - Fixed  6.7 (22.0)   
64.0 (39.8)138.1 (85.8)Burritts Rapids Lock #17 3.2 (10.5)  1512 #3 
65.1 (40.5)137.0 (85.1)Bridge 9 - Burritts Rapids - Swing  3.2 (10.4)   
69.4 (43.1)132.7 (82.5)Lower Nicholsons Lock #18 2.0 (6.5)    
69.7 (43.3)132.4 (82.3)Upper Nicholsons Lock #19 2.3 (7.6)    
69.7 (43.3)132.4 (82.3)Bridge 10 - Upper Nicholsons - Swing  3.6 (11.7)   
70.5 (43.8)131.6 (81.8)Clowes Lock #20 2.3 (7.6)    
73.2 (45.5)128.9 (80.1)Bridge - Merrickville - C.P.R. - Fixed  11.9 (39)   
73.8 (45.9)128.3 (79.7)Merrickville Lock #21 2.6 (8.7)    
74.0 (46.0)128.1 (79.6)Merrickville Lock #22 3.0 (10)    
74.2 (46.1)127.9 (79.5)Merrickville Lock #23 2.0 (6.2)    
74.2 (46.1)127.9 (79.5)Bridge 11 - Merrickville - Swing  2.9 (9.5)   
74.7 (46.4)127.4 (79.2)Lion's Park - Merrickville     X
86.7 (53.9)115.4 (71.7)Kilmarnock Lock #24 0.7 (2.3)    
86.7 (53.9)115.4 (71.7)Bridge 13 - Kilmarnock - Swing  2.9 (9.5)   
92.7 (57.6)109.4 (68.0)Edmunds Lock #25 2.8 (9.2)   X
95.4 (59.3)106.7 (66.3)Bridge - C.P.R. Railway - Fixed  9.1 (30)   
95.4 (59.3)106.7 (66.3)Old Slys Locks #26-27 (in flight) 4.9 (16.1)    
95.6 (59.4)106.5 (66.2)Bridge 15 - Olds Slys - Swing  2.2 (7.1)   
96.8 (60.2)105.3 (65.4)Bridge - Beckwith Street - Fixed  7.9 (26)   
96.8 (60.2)105.3 (65.4)Smiths Falls Combined Lock #29a 7.6 (25.6)Replaces old locks 28-30   
97.0 (60.3)105.1 (65.3)Victoria Park - Smiths Falls      
97.4 (60.5)104.7 (65.1)Bridge 19 - Abbot Street - Swing  1.9 (6.2)   
97.4 (60.5)104.7 (65.1)Smiths Falls Detached Lock #31 2.6 (8.5)   X
97.5 (60.6)104.6 (65.0)Bridge - C.N.R. - Bascule  Permanently open   
101.1 (62.8)101.0 (62.8)Poonamalie Lock #32 2.2 (7.2)  1513 #1X
103.0 (64.0)99.1 (61.6)Entrance to Lower Rideau Lake      
107.5 (66.8)94.6 (58.8)Diversion to Tay Canal To Perth
= Tay Canal
= 10.0 km
    
110.4 (68.6)91.7 (57.0)Tay Canal Entrance - Lower Rideau Lake      
Tay 0.3 (0.2)Tay 0.3 (0.2)Lower Beveridges Lock #33 (Tay Canal) 3.6 (12)   X
Tay 0.5 (0.3)Tay 0.5 (0.3)Bridge - Beveridges - Fixed  6.7 (22)   
Tay 0.9 (0.6)Tay 0.9 (0.6)Upper Beveridges Lock #34 (Tay Canal) 3.3 (10.9)    
Tay 9.2 (5.7)Tay 9.2 (5.7)Last Duel Park, Wharf - Perth      
Tay 9.3 (5.8)Tay 9.3 (5.8)Bridge - Craig Street, Perth - Fixed  2.1 (7)   
Tay 9.8 (6.1)Tay 9.8 (6.1)Bridge - Beckwith Street, Perth - Swing  1.6 (5.2)   
Tay 9.8 (6.1)Tay 9.8 (6.1)Bridge - Drummond Street, Perth - Fixed  2.9 (9.5)   
Tay 10.0 (6.2)Tay 10.0 (6.2)Perth Basin - Public Wharf      
Tay 10.1 (6.3)Tay 10.1 (6.3)Bridge - Gore Street, Perth - Fixed  2.7 (9)   
110.6 (68.7)91.5 (56.9)Rideau Ferry Yacht Club Conservation Area     X
111.7 (69.4)90.6 (56.3)Public Dock, Rideau Ferry      
111.7 (69.4)90.6 (56.3)Bridge 26 - Rideau Ferry - Fixed  8.0 (26.0)   
119.4 (74.2)82.7 (51.4)Park - Murphy's Point Provincial Park     X
123.1 (76.5)79.0 (49.1)Diversion to Portland    1513 #2 
126.8 (78.8)75.3 (46.8)Colonel By Island (Livingston Island)      
133.6 (83.0)68.5 (42.6)Portland Public Wharf      
133.6 (83.0)68.5 (42.6)Park - John McKenzie, Portland     X
132.4 (82.3)69.7 (43.3)Narrows Lock #35 0.8 (2.6)    
132.4 (82.3)69.7 (43.3)Bridge 27 - The Narrows - Swing  1.2 (3.9)   
133.9 (83.2)68.2 (42.4)Diversion to Westport    1513 #2,3 
140.8 (87.5) 61.3 (38.1)Westport Public Wharf      
140.2 (87.1)61.9 (38.5)Bridge - Newboro High Level - Fixed  8.2 (27)   
140.8 (87.5)61.3 (38.1)Newboro Lock #36 2.7 (8.9)    
140.7 (87.4)61.4 (38.2)Newboro Public Wharf     X
146.0 (90.7)56.1 (34.9)Ferry - cable (auto/foot)    1513 #3 
148.2 (92.1)53.9 (33.5)Bridge - C.N.R. High Level - Fixed  9.1 (29.5)   
148.7 (92.4)53.4 (33.2)Chaffeys Lock #37 3.4 (11.2)   X
148.7 (92.4)53.4 (33.2)Bridge 30 - Chaffeys - Swing  1.8 (5.9)   
152.0 (94.5)50.1 (31.1)Davis Lock #38 2.7 (8.9)    
158.4 (98.4)43.7 (27.2)Bridge - Jones Falls - Fixed  7.0 (22.7)   
159.0 (98.8)43.1 (26.8)Jones Falls Lock #39 4.2 (13.7)  1513 #4 
159.2 (98.9)42.9 (26.7)Jones Falls Locks #40-42, in flight 13.2 (43.4)    
161.4 (100.3)40.7 (25.3)Diversion to Morton      
165.6 (102.9)36.5 (22.7)Morton Dam      
166.2 (103.3)35.9 (22.3)Diversion to Seeley's Bay      
167.2 (103.9)34.9 (21.7)Seeley's Bay Public Wharf     X
170.0 (105.6)32.1 (19.9)Bridge 36 - Brass Point - Swing  1.2 (3.9)   
176.5 (109.7)25.6 (15.9)Upper Brewers Locks #43-44 (in flight) 5.9 (19.4)    
177.0 (110.0)25.1 (15.6)Bridge - Sunbury Rd. - Fixed  6.7 (22.0)   
179.3 (111.4)22.8 (14.2)Bridge 39 - Lower Brewers - Swing  1.3 (4.2)   
179.3 (111.4)22.8 (14.2)Lower Brewers (Washburn) Lock #45 4.0 (13.1)    
195.0 (121.2)7.1 (4.4)Bridge 41 - Kingston Mills - Swing  2.3 (7.5)   
195.2 (121.3)7.1 (4.4)Kingston Mills Lock #46 3.0 (9.8)    
195.2 (121.3)6.9 (4.3)Kingston Mills Locks #47-49 (in flight) 10.7 (35.2)    
195.2 (121.3)6.9 (4.3)Bridge - C.N.R. High Level - Fixed  8.2 (26.6)   
196.0 (121.8)6.1 (3.8)Bridge - Hwy 401 - Fixed  6.7 (22.0)   
202.1 (125.6)0 (0)Kingston Lasalle Causeway***  4.3 (14)***   
202.1 (125.6)0 (0)Kingston Lasalle Causeway - Bascule Lift Bridge***  0.6 (2.0)***   
  Lake Ontario  elevation: 74m (242.8 ft)   
Distance
km (miles) from
OTTAWA
Distance
km (miles) from
KINGSTON
Description
Lock Lift
metres (feet)
Bridge Clearance
metres (feet)
Chart
Boat
Launch

* Additional boat launch ramps can be found at private marinas.
** Kemptville Creek is shallow (4 - 5 feet); Kemptville bridge clearance 2.1 m (6.8 ft)
*** Small craft under 4.3 m (14 ft) vertical clearance may pass through La Salle Causeway by using boat channels at its eastern end.

Hydro (Power) Lines: The location of submarine cables and overhead lines are marked on the hydrographic charts. Overhead lines over navigable water have a minimum clearance of 6.7 m /22 ft. The exact clearance is marked on the charts.


Rideau Canal - Locking Statistics

Canal traffic in 2018 down 11.0% compared to 2017 with a total of 61,048 vessel passages recorded through the locks, compared to 68,590 vessel passages in 2017. Part of the reason for this decrease is that 2017 offered free lockage and because of that the Rideau saw much increased local boater usage (despite the bad weather and two canal closures in 2017). The numbers are up very slightly from 2016 which had 59,301 vessel passages. However, this comparison to 2016 is misleading since 2018 numbers contain the lockages done by the 16 Le Boats which started operation in 2018. These could account for in the order of 5,000 vessel passages. So the number for non-LeBoat boats appears to be significantly down.

These numbers represent the cumulative total of vessel passages through the locks (divide by 8 to get the approximate number of individual boats).

The table below shows statistics for some selected locks along the canal:

Lockstation Number of
Vessel Passages
    Origin
  Ontario   Québec   US
2018 2017   2018 2017   2018 2017   2018 2017
Ottawa 1321 1473   387 436   817 956   109 74
Hogs Back 1897 2045   1064 1025   699 740   118 85
Black Rapids 1721 2097   907 1212   687 745   115 98
Clowes 1892 2249   1136 1514   605 633   131 84
Merrickville 1672 1856   1011 1174   535 567   114 84
Smiths Falls Combined 2059 2071   1359 1344   538 594   140 110
Narrows 6503 7595   5482 6375   661 747   337 429
Newboro 5584 6541   4469 5378   615 544   478 589
Chaffeys 4045 4939   2993 3684   490 534   541 695
Davis 3416 4156   2288 2793   417 428   434 486
Jones Falls 1805 1981   1145 1328   400 378   243 256
Kingston Mills 1845 1793   1145 1155   373 355   303 250
TOTALS (all locks) 61,048 68,590   41,404 47,114   13,350 14,561   5,650 5,409

In total during 2018, 67.8% of the boats were from Ontario, 21.9% from Québec, 9.3% from the United States and 1.1% "Other". In absolute terms, boaters from Ontario decreased (41,404 vs 47,114) as did boaters from Québec (13,350 vs 14,561) while boaters from the U.S. increased slightly (5,650 vs 5,409) over 2017. The big Ontario decrease is mainly due to local boaters who used the locks in 2017 with free lockage, but did not in 2018 with the return of lockage fees.

Moorings decreased by 3.5% in 2018, with 11,232 moorings compared to 11,637 in 2017.

Vessel Passages

The chart above shows yearly vessel passages from 1980 to 2018. The big jump in 1982 was due to publicity surrounding the Rideau 150 celebrations. That same level of publicity wasn't achieved for Rideau 175 which saw a much more modest increase in boaters. The large declines appear to be mostly due to uncertainty about the operation of the canal including closures of all or part of the canal. In 1983, the Ottawa locks were closed for repairs. In 1991 and 2004 the union went on strike, closing the canal. Fee increases have a negative impact, but these tend to be much smaller than the effect of canal closures. The jump in 2017 was due to free lockage (tempered by bad weather). Although 2018 showed a decrease, those numbers were bolstered by the first year of operation of Le Boat's 16 rental boats.

The decline from 2009 to 2014 appears to be mostly due to lack of marketing to boaters by Parks Canada (Parks Canada changed their Rideau Canal marketing strategy in 2007/2008) and the lack of adaptability to new boating trends. The uncertainty over the season of the canal, radical fee proposals, and the reduction of hours in 2013, continued the precipitous decline to 2014. The restoration of 1 summer hour in 2014 (although still not to pre-2013 hours) plus good boating weather in both 2015 and 2016 helped provide a modest rebound. 2017 is an anomaly due to the free lockage (which resulted in a large increase in use by local boaters). 2017 did show that local boaters are very fee sensitive and represent a large lockage resource untapped by Parks Canada. 2018 showed the continued decline in private boaters - the numbers were sustained at slightly above 2016 levels by Le Boat's new Rideau Canal operation with 16 rental boats.






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©1996- Ken W. Watson