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Driving Tours of the Rideau Canal

PICNIC TOUR - Northern Rideau

The object of the picnic tour is to travel back to simpler times. There is no better place to do this than the Rideau. Take a break from fast lives, fast food, and urban pressures. Pack a picnic lunch, your swim gear, a fishing rod, and prepare to relax.

Ottawa to Cty. Rd. 43 - The first thing you want to do is to get out of Ottawa. Depending on where you live, the fastest way to do this is to take the Hwy. 416 exit off the Queensway. Head south to the Cty. Rd. 43 (Kemptville) exit. Head west along Cty. Rd. 43. Once on Cty. Rd. 43, you will have the choice of a couple of options, heading to Merrickville or heading to Burritts Rapids. These two options are detailed below:

MERRICKVILLE OPTION - Cty. Rd. 43 to Merrickville:* Continue along Cty. Rd. 43 to Merrickville. Continue past the main intersection and then turn right into the parking lot for the Merrickville Blockhouse. There is a large grassy area here with picnic tables (Blockhouse Park). Claim a table for yourself and relax. Washrooms are available in The Depot (run by Friends of the Rideau), which is the first building upstream from the Blockhouse. Watch the boats locking through. Take a tour of the Blockhouse. Take a walk after lunch through historic Merrickville.

Merrickville via Burritts Rapids to Ottawa - Your return to Ottawa will be via Burritts Rapids. Cross over the bridge in Merrickville and take Cty. Rd. 2 to Burritts Rapids. If you want a slight detour, turn right off Cty. Rd. 2 to go into the village of Burritts Rapids. The village itself is on a small island. Stop and have a look at the bridge on the south end of town. The first bridge across the Rideau was built near here in 1824. The present steel truss swing bridge dates to 1897. Heading back to Cty. Rd. 2, continue east to North Gower and then into Ottawa.

BURRITTS RAPIDS OPTION - Cty. Rd. 43 to Cty. Rd. 3 to River Road to Burritts Rapids Lockstation - following Cty. Rd. 43 past Kemptville, take the Cty. Rd. 3 exit (on your right, heading north) towards Burritts Rapids. Turn right again at the junction of Cty. Rd. 23 and River Road. Follow River Road to the Burritts Rapids lockstation (about 1 km down the road). This is a quiet lockstation, park yourself at a picnic table and enjoy the tranquillity of the Rideau. Take the opportunity to ask the Lockmaster any questions you have about the operation of the locks. The canal staff are always friendly and more than happy to answer any of your questions. You can work off your picnic lunch with a walk down part or all of the "Tip to Tip Trail", which starts on the island just across the lock, and extends 2 km to the west end of the island. This will also give you an opportunity to explore Burritts Rapids, one of the oldest communities on the Rideau, established by Stephen Burritt in 1793.

Burritts Rapids Lockstation to Ottawa - continue east along River Road to Hwy. 44. If you're in a hurry, turn south on Hwy. 44 to Cty. Rd. 43 and then over to Hwy. 416. If you have time, turn north on Hwy. 44, crossing over the Rideau to Cty. Rd. 2. Follow Cty. Rd. 2 as it turns north (now Cty. Rd. 5), into North Gower, head east to Hwy. 416 and follow it north into Ottawa.

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