The historic Rideau Canal opens for navigation on Friday. Lockmasters and their staff will be ready to hand-crank most of the 47 sets of locks between Ottawa and Kingston.
The Rideau Canal is the oldest continually used canal in North America.
“With the free lockage last year we saw an increase of around 15 per cent in usage of the Rideau Canal and, of course, that was with the inclement weather and stuff we had last year and some of the shutdowns,” said Dustin Bulloch, Parks Canada’s southern sector manager of Ontario Waterways for the Rideau.
One of those shutdowns happened at Upper Brewers Locks in South Frontenac. Numerous boats were stranded in the system for several days due to high water levels. Parks Canada officials are hoping for a smoother 2018.
“The business comes with people coming here, coming and see you for the first time, they’re thrilled to see that there’s something here. They buy a souvenir and take it home, it’s been very good,” Randal Donor, the owner of a studio in an old mill at Lower Brewers Lock, said.
Parks Canada is midway through a five-year, $3-billion infrastructure program earmarked to improve infrastructure work to heritage, waterway and highway assets located within national historic sites, parks, and marine conservation areas across Canada.
Of that large sum, $57 million was earmarked by the federal Liberals for the locks, dams and bridges along the system. The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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