Rideau Heritage Network

The Rideau Heritage Network,
a large scale heritage conservation initiative.

the following article appeared in the spring 2006 newsletter of
Community Heritage Ontario (some photos have been added)

Jones Falls
Historic Rideau lockstations
The Rideau Canal is a 202 km waterway linking Ottawa and Kingston. Completed in 1831 the canal along with Fort Henry and the Kingston Fortifications was conceived as a military route to ensure British dominance of the Great Lakes. The system of locks, dams, weirs, embankments and impoundments designed to link the watersheds of the Rideau and Cataraqui Rivers represented a triumph in civil engineering, conceived, planned and executed in only 6 years in a virtual wilderness setting. Today the canal stands virtually intact, a testimony to the skill of the Royal Engineers.

Stepping Stone
Beautiful heritage buildings
The canal was designed a national historic site in 1926, a Canadian Heritage River in 2000 and has been nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List as a World Heritage Site. The Canal celebrates its 175th anniversary in 2007.

The canal is located in a diverse geographic setting illustrating over 200 years of settlement. Merrickville, Perth and Burritts Rapids are well known throughout the Province as settlements with a large stock of heritage buildings. The relative lack of new development elsewhere along the Rideau Canal corridor has resulted in the survival of rural cultural landscapes exhibiting a wide range of 19th domestic and agricultural buildings. Indeed the storey and a half stone Georgian cottage is so common it is symbolic of the regions heritage. Anchoring the canal corridor at both ends are the cities of Ottawa and Kingston both with a wide variety of cultural heritage resources. This rich legacy of cultural heritage resources has long been recognized as a significant heritage area that needs to be protected.

The Wedding Cake
Unique cottage architecture
This recognition led to the establishment of the Rideau Heritage Network in 2005 spearheaded by the Ministry of Culture and Parks Canada. The network is an umbrella organization of all those with an interest in and responsibility for the conservation of the in situ cultural heritage features (buildings, archaeological resources, cultural landscapes) in municipalities along the Canal. The mission of the Network is to raise awareness of and work to conserve the cultural heritage features of the corridor through the application of the Ontario Heritage Act and the creation of a culture of conservation. The network is a collective voice for heritage and provides opportunities for training and networking for its members, and to pool resources and expertise.

The network is currently working on a long range plan to identify what needs to be done to achieve its mission. This is an ambitious undertaking but the combination of a committed heritage community, a rich legacy of cultural heritage resources and support from Parks Canada and the Ministry of Culture will provide the impetus for success. Talk to us at the CHO/ACO conference in June.

Manuel Stevens      Heather Thomson
Planner          Heritage Conservation Advisor
Parks Canada     Ministry of Culture

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©2006 Rideau Heritage Network