KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
WE GREW UP pronouncing it Re-Dew, but you’ll be quickly told it’s Re-dough. The Rideau Canal opened
in 1832 with 45 locks and 25 lock stations for a
total of 125 miles. All but three of the 45 locks
are still gravity-fed, as they were in 1832. The
others have been switched to hydraulic. The
canal is maintained to a minimum 5-foot depth,
although it has a maximum depth of 329 feet.
At the Newboro Lock, the direction of the buoys
change. Leaving Kingston and heading toward
Ottawa, red is on the right, but after Newboro,
red is on the left due to the divide between
the Rideau River watershed and Cataraqui/
Gananogue River watershed. Check with Parks
Canada for the fees and schedules. www.pc.gc.ca
Houseboats that sleep 6-8 range from $600 a
week (low season) to $1,600 (high season).
www.houseboatholidays.ca — T.P.B.
Take the BoatU.S. Foundation course for
navigating rivers, locks, and lakes with
confidence. Cost for members is $31.60.
navigating, just like when I was a kid.
From the Poonamalie Lock we went
through Mud Cut, then Lower Rideau Lake
where we filled up with gas and continued
to the quaint town of Portland. We spent the
night tied up to the town dock – so large and
wide there are picnic tables scattered around
the dock – and spent time laughing and sharing stories with other boaters.
MY, HOW THINGS HAVE
(OR HAVEN’T) CHANGED
The next day we left Portland for Jones Falls,
missing our other sister Suzi when we cruised
past the Sisters Islands. She hadn’t been able
to join us. Back in 1968, Jones Falls had been
one of our favorite stops. Instead of the public
docks, we’d tied up at the Hotel Kenney,
which had a swimming pool next to the
dock. We still treasure goofy videos of our dad
throwing himself off the diving board and us
trying to copy him. The swimming pool has
long been filled with dirt – you can still see
the cement edge – but the hospitality hasn’t
changed, nor the area’s beauty.
The only food I remember from the original trip was Canadian peameal bacon from the
local grocery store in Westport, another cute
town that has changed little. It’s nothing like
what we think of as bacon in the U.S., more
like ham coated with cornmeal. Back then we
sliced it and cooked it up in a skillet. Boy, was
that good. Todd and I found a restaurant in
Smith Falls called Roosteraunt. You guessed it,
it was decorated with lots of roosters, and had
peameal bacon for breakfast.
As my mother did on our 1968 voyage, my
sister planned all the meals in advance so we
could eat on the boat. What we didn’t realize
until we got there was that the houseboat
didn’t have an oven or microwave. So instead
we got creative and made brownies and
nachos on the outdoor grill. Roughing it was
fun. Much as we did in 1968, in the evenings
we played cards, but this time we also used
Facebook and email, something we couldn’t
have even dreamed of back then.
Just like when my dad and mom did all the
navigating together with simple paper charts,
each night Patty and I reviewed the charts and
made our plan. We had paper charts for backup, but the Rideau Canal is cut through many
different lakes and rivers. You really have to pay
attention where the canal goes, so out came
the iPad and Navionics app. At the end of the
week we headed back to where we started,
Smith Falls. The plan had been to make it by
boat to Ottawa, but instead we took our time
and went to Ottawa by car.
Reminiscing about that vacation in 1968,
I marveled at how my parents had instilled a
love of boating we’ve all kept and shared with
our own families. My daughter Jennifer inherited it. After sailing lessons and a new Laser
for her birthday ages ago, she still likes to race
and cruise on sailboats, and met her future
husband during races on the Potomac. He
proposed in the middle of a Star Clipper cruise
in Tahiti. Even better, they’re sharing their
love of boating with my grandson Jackson
Robert (after my dad) who’s only a year old.
Patty was one of the first female coxswains
on Coast Guard search-and-rescue boats and
later involved with boating safety enforcement.
Today she owns a couple of recreational boats
just outside of Syracuse. My sister Suzi loves
boating and recently took up scuba diving,
just as our dad used to. And me? Well, I’ve
owned various boats, and had a wonderful
22-year career with BoatU.S., grateful to my
mom and dad that they gave me the gift of
time spent together, on a boat.
Terri Parrow Botsford has just retired as BoatU.S.
vice president of Internet Operations. She and
Todd have a couple of small boats at their second
home in Heathsville, Virginia, on the Chesapeake,
and are moving back to the Syracuse area.
See this story online for: a slideshow
on the towns Terri visited; free digital
editions and articles of the Canal; info
on Canadian navigation aids; and what
you’ll need if crossing the Canadian border by boat. www.BoatUS.com/Magazine