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Heritage Landscapes

Graded D+

Landscapes at heritage sites tell a story. In the case of the Rideau Canal, we have the landscapes of each lockstation plus we also have the landscapes of the entire canal. The landscapes of the lockstations cover everything from man-made alterations to the various viewscapes. In Parks Canada's commemorative integrity protocols, heritage landscapes are as important as built heritage.

The landscapes of the lockstations are very important in many ways, the location of the locks in relation to the landscape, the viewscapes provided by the landscape (often dictating the placement of buildings such as blockhouses and defensible lockmasters houses), all of these are part of the heritage story. Alteration of the landscape or obfuscation of the landscape through excessive vegetation growth, all serve the degrade the heritage character of those landscapes.

Can you spot the Defensible Lockmaster's House?

Excessive vegetation growth has completely obscured this important heritage viewscape at Jones Falls - that of the defensible lockmaster's house sitting on top of the hill which used to have clear views to and from the approaches to the lock, the reason for its position on the landscape. Those former viewscapes, now obscured by excessive vegetation, are an important part of the history of the Rideau Canal and the heritage story at this lockstation. And no, sqinting won't help, the Lockmaster's House is completely hidden.

In addition, the entire landscape of the Rideau Canal is impacted by the slackwater design of the canal, one of the reasons for its UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. UNESCO has asked the Government of Canada to define and protect the visual values for the entire Rideau Canal. Parks Canada has called this process the Rideau Corridor Landscape Strategy which at present seems to be stuck in limbo. See the Rideau Corridor Landscape Strategy page for full details.

There are several issues with the heritage landscapes of lockstations, most notably the amount of excessive vegetation growth that obscures important heritage viewscapes. Hence these are graded as C since Parks Canada doesn't pay much attention to the character of its heritage landscapes (it does not have any good measurement tools or evaluation procedures to identify the many problems).

The visual values of the Rideau Canal have yet to be defined and protected, hence a grade of D- for that aspect of heritage landscape protection.

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© 2012- Ken W. Watson