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World’s longest skateway celebrates 50 years

October 27, 2020 Visit USA No Comments

The Rideau Canal in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa celebrates 50 years of winding its way through the city and into the hearts of locals and visitors from across the globe.

While health and safety continue to be a top priority, this remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site is looking forward to welcoming Australian visitors when the time is right – guided by research, health regulations and clear border guidelines.

Recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest naturally frozen ice rink in the world, the Rideau Canal is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on which you can cruise in summer and skate in winter, taking in spectacular cityscapes of the Parliament buildings and majestic Fairmont Château Laurier along the way.

The Rideau Canal is more than just a waterway through a huge chunk of Ontario. Though central in location, what’s more central is its role in the city’s vibrancy throughout each and every season.

The 7.8 kilometre skateway first opened during the 1970/71 season, occupying a section of the Rideau Canal that stretches all the way from Ottawa to Kingston. The winter skateway goes hand-in-hand with Winterlude, Ottawa’s annual winter festival taking place each February, featuring ice sculptures, cultural and culinary events, and Snowflake Kingdom for the kids.

Running from Kingston to Ottawa, the Rideau Canal connects several bodies of water — the Ottawa River, Rideau River, and Lake Ontario, creating the oldest operating canal system in North America. The Canal is home to a system of locks that were built to connect areas of the province in the early 1800s and are now mostly used by casual boaters throughout the summer months.

The canal offers a myriad of routes for kayakers, canoeists and stand-up-paddleboarders of all ability levels, traversing the 202 kilometres between Kingston and Ottawa, with the option to camp or stay in charming cottages, B&Bs and inns throughout the journey.

Explore the picturesque towns along the Rideau Canal, including Smiths Falls, with its welcoming restaurants and antique stores, Westport, home to the Foley Mountain Conservation Area (a gorgeous park complete with a sandy beach), and Merrickville-Wolford, an artistic community with more than 30 resident artisans.

Aussie visitors can choose to cruise the Rideau Canal by houseboat on one of Le Boat’s fleet of 16 state-of-the-art Horizon cruisers. Glide effortlessly through the charming downtown precinct by day, enjoying tranquil views of Parliament Hill the rolling green banks. Get cosy in the evening and relax under the stars as the twinkling lights of the city lull you to sleep.

If dry land is more your thing, paved bicycle routes follow the gentle topography of the region, making it ideal for leisure cyclists, while the Rideau Trail is perfect for an idyllic hike and picnic.

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