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Take the Scenic Route

The Rideau Heritage Route follows the historic Rideau Canal as it winds its way through charming countryside from the shores of Lake Ontario in Kingston toward Canada’s capital on the Ottawa River. Quaint, heritage villages welcome with warm shops and delicious country fare. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a great place to explore, no matter what season we’re in.

  • 3.5hrs from
    Toronto
  • 1hr from
    Ottawa
  • 2.5hrs from
    Montreal

Rideau Heritage Route at its Best

Historic Charm
Historic Charm
Cross Country Skiing
Cross Country Skiing
Artesian Haven
Artesian Haven
Cheese Factories
Cheese Factories
Small Town Charm
Small Town Charm

One of Ontario’s Marvels

From 1826 to 1832, thousands of Irish and French-Canadian labourers built the walls, dams and locks that make up the Rideau Canal. Incorporating 47 locks, 16 rivers and 2 lakes; the Rideau Canal provided a secure supply and communications route between Kingston and Ottawa – away from those pesky American invaders in the 19th century. Their hard work is still a marvel today; with the canal being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as the oldest continually operated canal system on the continent.

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The Rideau Canal is managed by Parks Canada and is fascinating to visit any time of the year. It is a delight to take a drive on a clear winter day and visit the on-site exhibits or snowshoe through the self-guided trails. Bring your camera while you explore and capture this unforgettable experience while you connect with our nation’s history.

Bundle Up – Ski Adventures Beckon

Several area parks and conservation areas offer cross country skiing opportunities.  Murphy’s Point Provincial Park and Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area each have 25 km and 13 km’s of groomed trails. The Cataraqui Trail offers 200 km’s of groomed trails! And Foley Mountain Conservation Area is a beautiful, scenic place to enjoy snowshoeing.

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Parks & Conservation Areas

Parks Canada
The definitive resource on National Parks (St. Lawrence Islands) and Historical Sites (Rideau Canal, Bellevue House, Laurier House and more!) in our beautiful region.  Look to this site for complete information on the services and facilities available at each Rideau Canal lock station.
www.pc.gc.ca

Ontario Provincial Parks
Find information on the features, facilities, services, camping fees and operating dates of provincial parks along the Rideau (Charleston Lake, Frontenac, Murphy’s Point and Rideau River).  Check out handy tools like the park locator and online camping reservations system!
www.ontarioparks.com

Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority
Learn about the trails, facilities, features, hours and fees at the six Cataraqui Region Conservation Areas that have been developed for recreational use at the southern end of the Rideau waterway.
www.cataraquiregion.on.ca

Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
Learn about the trails, facilities, features and fees at the ten recreational Rideau Valley Conservation Areas located in the central and northern portions of the Rideau corridor.
www.rideauvalley.on.ca

One of a Kind Delights

Along the Rideau Heritage Route – in quaint towns and villages, many artisans have set up their studios and galleries. Explore and find a unique treasure, meet the artists and enjoy a fun day.

Items that local Artisans create or craft with:

  • pewter
  • pottery
  • wood turnings and carving
  • jewellery
  • glass blowing
  • textile arts
  • painting

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Check out some of these great finds:

The Grotto Artworks in Merrickville
Gray Art Glass in Merrickville
Canal Gallery and Frame Shop
Monsky Creations
David Paterson Glass Blowing Studio in Merrickville
Green Shutters Studio in Merrickville
Holly Dean Calligraphic Artist in Merrickville
Kiss My Glass Hot Gallery in Merrickville
Laura Starkey in Merrickville
Wick Witch Candle Co. in Merrickville
My Vintage Revamped in Merrickville
The Mill at Chaffey’s Lock Art Gallery in Elgin
Michael Doxey Pottery in Portland
ArtCraft Gallery in Westport
Papillon Press in Westport
Paul Laberge in Merrickville
Tree of Life Studio and Gallery in Merrickville

Read more about the Art Galleries in The Great Waterway: A mini guide

We Don’t Mind Being a Little Bit Cheesy

South/Eastern Ontario has a rich cheese-making heritage.  During your visit to the Rideau corridor, stop in at one of these local producers and see how century-old traditions are still at work today in the making of quality Canadian cheese!

 

Balderson

BALDERPremium Aged Cheddar Since 1881. Located in Winchester, award-winning Balderson cheddars are internationally renowned for their classic flavour, creamy texture and traditional sharpness.  Skilled cheese makers bring together these characteristics through a century-long tradition of careful, natural aging.

 

Forfar Dairy Ltd.

FORFATMaking Quality their Tradition since 1863, Forfar Dairy in Portland is the oldest and smallest independent cheese factory in Eastern Ontario, producing a variety of cow’s milk, goat’s milk and sheep’s milk cheeses.  Visit the factory store for fresh curds still warm from the vat, hand-scooped ice cream, cheese, gourmet food products and more!

 

Wilton Cheese Factory

WILTONLocated just north-west of Kingston in Odessa, this family-run Canadian company has been manufacturing cheese since 1925. Today they have a complete line of high quality cheddar and other cheese varieties.  Their old-world curing process creates old-fashioned, full-bodied, natural flavours.  See the manufacturing area and enjoy delicious samples.  Groups welcome!

The Jewel of the Rideau

Merrickville is renowned for its boutiques, which are filled with one-of-a-kind items made by local artisans. Their unique talents are on display at studios where craftsmen demonstrate their trade as well as sell their wares. You can buy the creations made before your eyes.  The village streets are lined with shops carrying such things as locally-made products, art of all kinds, antiques, collector’s items, specialty foods, and more.

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Considered to be one of Canada’s best preserved 19th century villages, Merrickville boasts uniquely restored and exquisitely maintained homes, all within an easy walk around town. Central to the Village is The Blockhouse, built in 1832 and now a museum of fascinating local artifacts. The locks of the Rideau Canal are fascinating to watch and operate today just like they did over 175 years ago.

An area called ‘Merrickville South’ is well worth the two block detour south of the main shopping area to see some world famous artisans like Kevin Robert Grey and Claudette Hart, the infamous “Gourd Lady” only a couple of the ‘must-see’ artists to be found there.

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