Insight Advisor

Take the Scenic Route

The Rideau Heritage Route follows the historic Rideau Canal as it winds its way through charming countryside from the shores of Lake Ontario in Kingston toward Canada’s capital on the Ottawa River. Quaint, heritage villages welcome with warm shops and delicious country fare.  This UNESCO World Heritage site is a great place to explore, no matter what season we’re in.

  • 3.5 hrs from
  • 1 hr from
  • 2.5 hrs from

Rideau Heritage Route at its Best

Skating the Oval
Skating the Oval
One of Ontario’s Marvels
One of Ontario’s Marvels
Cross Country Skiing
Cross Country Skiing
One of a Kind Delights
One of a Kind Delights
Small Town Charm
Small Town Charm

Skating the Oval

Winter may be cold but the activities heat up at this time of year along the Rideau Heritage Route! Portland on Big Rideau Lake hosts the wildly popular Skate the Lake Speedskating Marathon Jan. 26 and 27. A 1 km natural ice oval is cleared and maintained on the lake itself and competitors come from all over the world to participate and have fun. The public is also allowed to enter or just to skate the oval and enjoy time spent with family and friends outdoors. With fireworks and a party, food vendors, sleigh rides and more – skating the oval is a must-do this winter along the Rideau.

One of Ontario’s Marvels

From 1826 to 1832, thousands of Irish and French-Canadian labourers built the walls, dams and locks that make up the Rideau Canal. Incorporating 47 locks and 23 lockstation, the Rideau Canal provided a secure supply and communications route between Kingston and Ottawa – away from those pesky American invaders in the 19th century. Their hard work is still a marvel today with the canal being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as the oldest continually operated canal system on the continent.

The Rideau Canal is managed by Parks Canada and is fascinating to visit any time of the year. It is a delight to take a drive on a clear winter day and visit the on-site exhibits or snowshoe through the self-guided trails. Bring your camera while you explore and capture this unforgettable experience while you connect with our nation’s history.

Cross Country Skiing

Several area parks and conservation areas offer cross country skiing opportunities.  Murphy’s Point Provincial Park and Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area each have 25 km and 13 km’s of groomed trails.  The Cataraqui Trail offers 200 km’s of groomed trails! And Foley Mountain Conservation Area is a beautiful, scenic place to enjoy snowshoeing.

Parks & Conservation Areas

Parks Canada
The definitive resource on National Parks (St. Lawrence Islands) and Historical Sites (Rideau Canal, Bellevue House, Laurier House and more!) in our beautiful region.  Look to this site for complete information on the services and facilities available at each Rideau Canal lock station.

Ontario Provincial Parks
Find information on the features, facilities, services, camping fees and operating dates of provincial parks along the Rideau (Charleston Lake, Frontenac, Murphy’s Point and Rideau River).  Check out handy tools like the park locator and online camping reservations system!

Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority
Learn about the trails, facilities, features, hours and fees at the six Cataraqui Region Conservation Areas that have been developed for recreational use at the southern end of the Rideau waterway.

Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
Learn about the trails, facilities, features and fees at the ten recreational Rideau Valley Conservation Areas located in the central and northern portions of the Rideau corridor.

One of a Kind Delights

Along the Rideau Heritage Route – in quaint towns and villages, many artisans have set up their studios and galleries. Explore and find a unique treasure, meet the artists and enjoy a fun day.

Items that local Artisans create or craft with: pewter, pottery, wood turnings and carving, jewellery, glass blowing, textile arts painting.

Check out some of these great finds:

The Grotto Artworks in Merrickville  –

Gray Art Glass in Merrickville –

Canal Gallery and Frame Shop –

Monsky Creations –

David Paterson Glass Blowing Studio in Merrickville –

Green Shutters Studio in Merrickville

Holly Dean Calligraphic Artist in Merrickville –

Kiss My Glass Hot Gallery in Merrickville

Laura Starkey in Merrickville

Wick Witch Candle Co. in Merrickvillev

My Vintage Revamped in Merrickville –

The Mill at Chaffey’s Lock Art Gallery in Elgin

Michael Doxey Pottery in Portland –

ArtCraft Gallery in Westport

Papillon Press in Westport –

Paul Laberge in Merrickville

Tree of Life Studio and Gallery –in Merrickville

The Jewel of the Rideau

Merrickville is renowned for its boutiques, which are filled with one-of-a-kind items made by local artisans. Their unique talents are on display at studios where craftsmen demonstrate their trade as well as sell their wares. You can buy the creations made before your eyes.  The village streets are lined with shops carrying such things as locally-made products, art of all kinds, antiques, collector’s items, specialty foods, and more.

Considered to be one of Canada’s best preserved 19th-century villages, Merrickville boasts uniquely restored and exquisitely maintained homes, all within an easy walk around town. Central to the Village is The Blockhouse, built in 1832 and now a museum of fascinating local artifacts. The locks of the Rideau Canal are fascinating to watch and operate today just like they did over 175 years ago.

An area called ‘Merrickville South’ is well worth the two block detour south of the main shopping area to see some world famous artisans like Kevin Robert Grey and Claudette Hart, the infamous “Gourd Lady” only a couple of the ‘must-see’ artists to be found there.

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Download the official 2018 Visitor's Guide

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