A Non-Profit Organization Made Up of Volunteers

Friends of the Rideau is a non-profit organization made up of volunteers who care passionately about the Rideau Canal.

  • We work to enhance and preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the Rideau Canal.
  • We work to increase public awareness and enjoyment of the Rideau Canal.
  • We work to develop strong public support for the long-term well being of the Rideau Canal.
  • We promote co-operative Rideau Waterway information distribution.

We do this to ensure the long term well-being of the Rideau Canal, so that future generations can continue to use and enjoy this remarkable piece of Canadian heritage.

Working to Promote and Conserve The Charm of the Rideau Canal Waterway

To accomplish our goals, to increase public awareness and enjoyment of the Rideau Canal, and to help ensure its long-term well-being, we undertake a number of projects.

Information Booth – We are out and about each summer with our information booth at many of the events taking place along the Rideau. These include such events as the Ottawa Boat Show, Colonel By Day in Ottawa, the Antique and Classic Boat Show (Westport or Rideau Ferry), Merrickville Canalfest, and the bi-annual Rideau Ferry Regatta.

The Depot – we operate a Information and Visitor Centre in the historic Depot building on the waterfront on Merrickville. It’s open from June to August each year, providing information to thousands of visitors each year. See the Merrickville Depot.

Resources for the Rideau. This project which ran from 2009 to 2015 involved digitizing several of Parks Canada’s Rideau Canal Manuscript Reports and making them available to the public as books on CD. These reports are a series of high quality research documents detailing various historical and heritage aspects of the Rideau Canal. They were produced in limited quantities from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. We are pleased to be able to make some of these available as books on CD (searchable text PDF files). For details about the project please see: Rideau Manuscript Report Digitization Project.

In 2010, we used the Rideau Legacy Fund to facilitate the publication of Ed Bebee’s new book, Invisible Army, the history of the lock staff from 1832 to present. For more information about this milestone piece of Rideau research, see the: Invisible Army Page.

We put together and published a new book for 2008 – The Sweeney Diary: the 1839 to 1850 Journal of Rideau Lockmaster Peter Sweeney. The book was put together on a volunteer basis with financing for printing provided by the Rideau Legacy Fund. For details, see the Sweeney Diary page.

In 2007 we created the Rideau Legacy Fund. This fund will be used to help finance projects that will provide a long-term benefit to the Rideau Canal in terms of fostering public support and awareness of the Rideau Canal and making available to the general public more information about the heritage or ecology of the Rideau Canal.

We worked with Parks Canada to created the “Managing Aquatic Vegetation on the Rideau Canal” brochure, with information about aquatic vegetation (aka “weeds”) and the permit requirements to remove them. The brochure can be downloaded from our Brochure Page.

We’re worked very hard to make Rideau 175, the 175th anniversary of the opening of the Rideau, a memorable event in 2007. That included creating and maintaining a Rideau 175 website which listed events and showcased event photos

We published a new book, “Pathfinders – The Guides of the Rideau” all about the fascinating history of fishing guides on the Rideau. We are very pleased to have brought this previously untold piece of important Rideau history into the public domain. For more information have a look at the Pathfinders Page.

We created the “Be Rideau Loon Aware” brochure, dealing with loon awareness and responsible watercraft use, to help reduce the conflicts that can occur between boaters and loons, particularly loon chicks. An on-line version of the brochure can be viewed on the Be Rideau Loon Aware page.

We have reprinted the book, Building the Rideau Canal, A Pictorial History, by Robert Passfield. This is an important work about the Rideau which has been out of print for some years (originally published in 1982). For details, see the Passfield page.

We created a nature and heritage trail going from our retail outlet, The Depot, in Merrickville to the remains of the old water control dam at the end of the peninsula. An interpretive brochure was also be done as part of this project. The official opening of the trail was in the summer of 2003.

In early 2002 we offered a free copy of the newly reprinted Rideau Waterway, by Robert F. Legget, to all 81 High Schools in the greater Rideau region. We hope that this will help more students learn about the interesting history of the Rideau and encourage them to explore the Rideau Waterway, to see first hand the history that the book describes.

We have created a new brochure “How A Lock Works” to help visitors to Rideau lockstations understand how the locking through procedure actually works. An on-line version of this brochure, in both English and French, has also been posted to this website.

We were active participants in the process that achived World Heritage Status for the Rideau Canal in 2007.

We successfully fund raised to get Robert Legget’s book “Rideau Waterway” republished by University of Toronto Press. It was re-printed in the spring of 2001.

We published a new book about the Rideau, written by Friend of the Rideau director Ken Watson, in July 2000.

We have created a website for the new Rideau Heritage Route publication, a co-operative effort of all the Chambers of Commerces and tourist organizations in the Rideau Corridor (Kingston to Ottawa).

We put our Stop Wash publication, an educational brochure about the problems with excessive boat wash (wake), up on the web.

We worked with several groups in pursuing Canadian Heritage River designation for the Rideau Waterway. The Rideau Waterway received this designation in August, 2000.

The website that you are on now was first created in 1997 and it continues to provide Rideau information to the public.

We run the Depot in Merrickville during the summer. It is both a retail and interpretive center offering information about all things Rideau.

We distribute newsletters to our members, keeping them up to date on all that is happening on the Rideau

We hold an annual spring meeting where we bring in interesting speakers to talk about various things of Rideau interest.

Members from around the World

Our members are from both Canada and the United States, with even a couple from Europe. They include boaters, cottagers, cottage associations, other local non-profit organizations, municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, heritage societies, museums, and service clubs.  Many local businesses join because they recognize the value of sustainable tourism to the area. If you love the Rideau, consider taking out a membership today. Please see our membership page


Our newsletter, Rideau Reflections, keeps our members up to date on all things Rideau and including interesting natural and cultural heritage articles. Become a member and get the newsletter delivered right to you. Recent copies of the newsletter can be viewed on our website.

Annual Report


More Information

Our information and cultural interpretation centre is at the historic Depot on the waterfront in Merrickville, beside the Blockhouse. It is open during the summer.