Skate the Rideau Canal

Skate the Rideau Canal

Ottawa’s Rideau Canada is more than just the world’s largest skating rink. UNESCO recognizes it as “the best preserved slackwater canal in North America, demonstrating the use of European technology on a large scale.” They also credit the original military-built canal with allowing the British to successfully defend Canada against the USA, leading to the development of two distinct entities on the continent. In other words, if the canal didn’t exist, neither might Canada. Today, pleasure boats in summer make their way down the 202km waterway, visiting several communities along the way. Get some exercise in winter and meet some locals, snacking on Beaver Tails while skating between the Parliament Buildings and other Ottawa landmarks.

Length of Trip : A couple hours, depending on your level of skating.

Cost : Skates are available to rent from Capital Skates by the Mackenzie King Bridge, at Fifth Avenue and at Dows Lake. Cost is $16 for 2 hours, and $8 for additional hours. You can also rent helmets, and wrist guards.

Best time to go : The Rideau Canal Skateway usually opens in January and closes in March. Check the ice conditions before you skate. It’s open 24 hours a day, but there is no skate patrol after 10pm or 11pm, depending on the day.

Wheelchair friendly :
Wheelchair accessible ramps to the Skateway are located near the following:
• Mackenzie King Bridge
• Fifth Avenue (Queen Elizabeth Drive side)
• Bronson Avenue (Colonel By Drive)

Dows Lake Pavilion Accessible heated change facilities and washrooms are located on the ice near the following:
• Mackenzie King Bridge
• Concord Street North
• Fifth Avenue
• Bronson Avenue
• Dows Lake Pavilion

Family friendly : Yes

Where to eat : High-end: Play Food & Wine Mid-level: Heart and Crown Irish Pubs Aulde Dubliner & Pour House Budget: Grab something delicious at the ByWard Market

Official Site : For more info, visit:

Getting There : The canal runs through the heart of downtown Ottawa. A good place to start is under the Mackenzie King Bridge.

Note from Robin : The Rideau Canal is quite wonderful in all seasons. In summer, the canal is lined by parkways with cycling lanes and gardens. Check out the excellent Bytown Museum for a glimpse into the Rideau’s history.

Great Canadian Trails