Day 6, Rideau Canal System, Smiths Falls to Merrickville

After a luxurious night spent in a real bed, our hosts David and Kim gave us a great send off breakfast!

Afterwards, we packed up our clean laundry with the rest of our gear and all piled into the Venza for a personal portage around the Smiths Falls locks. While they would have been interesting ( and mandatory because of the city streets that would need to be crossed), being put in at the downstream end of Old Sly’s lock gave us a lovely head start.

Within a couple of Km’s we met up with our first lock. Edwards Lock was a sleepy little lock with a quick 19 m portage.

When I went into the Lockstation I chatted with the lock master and confirmed that it indeed was a slow start to the morning. Dan and I had noticed no large boats on the system which was a godsend! I also mentioned that we had seen the Kawartha Voyaguer, and he said that when they have her go through their lock, they try to convince a canoe or kayak to join her! That would have been an experience!!!

After that lock we headed up towards the Kilmarnock Lock. The Rideau was now surrounded by flat farmland with lots of marsh water paddling.

We tried to avoid the surface weeds as much as possible, but sometimes we needed the break from the weed fight. 5-6 days paddling is starting to add up on our backs and on our butts!

When we reached the Kilmarnock lock, they were just opening up the upstream lock, and waved us in with the other two boats. Feeling slightly dwarfed we saddled up behind some folks who had come from Georgian Bay, through the Trent Severn enroute to Ottawa. From there, they would leave their boat for the winter and head back home. Happily we survived our first and perhaps only lock through!!

From Kilmarnock we travelled another 10-12 Kms. It seemed like no matter which direction we paddled, the wind kept wanting to meet us head on at this point. The interesting part of this paddle was through a nature preserve, and we even got to see some bald eagles diving for fish… very impressive!

We perservered, but finally had to stop at some kind peoples’ dock and stretch our legs and backs. When we asked how far it was to Merrickville, we got differing opinions from the two women… 5 Mina by boat… maybe 5-6 km!!! If I though they had any idea of distance, I would have been concerned! Finally Larry came back to the dock and said we were 1-2 km from the town… this was much easier to take!!!

Off we went again, skirting the marsh. We were passed by 5 large cruisers in a row making way for Merrickville for the night. Lots and lots of wash!!!

When we approached the locks, our guide said that we should take out on the right side, but the portage dock and sign were on the left. Once we reached the dock we decided that I would go and scout out the portage, and Dan would stay with the canoe. I headed first for the Blockhouse, but the people there weren’t with Parks Canada and didn’t know wher their parking was. I crossed the street and headed further down the canal way and found one of the groundskeepers for Parks Canada and asked him where the portage was. He indicated that the revised portage was across the street and behind the old mill. When I headed in the indicated direction, it would have meant that Dan would need to carry the canoe along a railed tressel, down 4 stairs, across the main drag, behind the old mill and walk for about 1 km from end to end. And we would still need to paddled back around to the end of the lock for the designated campsite! Not nice!!!

So, we paddled from our left hand dock to the other side of the canal. There, we took the gear and canoe out, walked through the park, crossed the main drag, walked behind the church and through the lock side. I finally found the lock master there and told him how poorly designed the portage was. He told me we should have walked out a gravel road to the main drag and through the gate. When I told him the gate was locked he agreed that it was due to the fair… not very oriented to poor paddlers trying to get around the locks! In the end he agreed to let us stay at a spot that was a designated camping spot! Small win, but a win nonetheless!

We soon got our late lunch, and then set up camp. The couple who’s boat we were behind at Kilmarnock came up and visited for a short while. Just then another beautiful old river boat came through the locks!

The couple kept talking about their AC on board, and finally invited us over! Maybe once we get cleaned up a bit, we might take them up on their offer!!!

But first the mandatory r and r recharge! As you can see, with the gentle wind my firefly hammock inflated nicely. Dan on the other hand didn’t quite tie his hammock right, cause during an r and r start up he met with a strategic collapse! Oh well, try again and hope for success!

All rested and cleaned up, we headed into town to The Goose and Gridiron for dinner… of course we needed to start with and isotonic drink!

We both enjoyed a lovely supper where we didn’t have to cook or do the dishes! And they had a power plug at our table, and wifi to boot! So I’ll sign off for now! Happy trails everyone!!

Categories: Paddling the Rideau Canal - A World Heritage Site


  1. I did not realize that you actually go through some locks; I thought you had to portage around all of them. Too bad the one was so poorly set up as you would think they get a lot of us paddlers! Safe journey!


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