Rideau Canal Festival


The Rideau Canal, also known as the Rideau Waterway, connects the city of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on the Ottawa River to the city of Kingston, Ontario on Lake Ontario. The canal was opened in 1832 as a precaution in case of war with the United States and is still in use today, with most of its original structures intact. The canal system uses sections of major rivers, including the Rideau and the Cataraqui, as well as some lakes. It is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America, and in 2007, it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is operated today by Parks Canada as a recreational waterway. The locks on the system open for navigation in mid-May and close in mid-October. The construction of the Rideau Canal was proposed shortly after the War of 1812, when there remained a persistent threat of attack by the United States on the British colony of Upper Canada. In this period, the British built a number of other canals, as well as a number of forts to impede and deter any future American invasions of Canadian territory.
The initial purpose of the Rideau Canal was military, as it was intended to provide a secure supply and communications route between Montreal and the British naval base in Kingston, Ontario. Westward from Montreal, travel would proceed along the Ottawa River to Bytown, then southwest via the canal to Kingston and out into Lake Ontario. The objective was to bypass the stretch of the St. Lawrence River bordering New York State; a route which would have left British supply ships vulnerable to an attack, or a blockade of the St. Lawrence.
Features
This 4-day outdoor festival takes place at venues along - and on - the Ottawa portion of the Rideau Canal over the Civic Holiday long weekend, the first weekend each August. The Festival was founded in 2008 to celebrate the heritage of and healthy lifestyle supported by the Rideau Canal, following its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. The Festival features decorated boats parading the length of the Ottawa portion of the Canal in impressive flotillas, a giant bicycle parade open to all, a canoe rendezvous, heritage activities, entertainment, an environmental fair and more. Special celebrations salute those who built the Rideau Canal, including Colonel by Day in honor of Lt-Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers - the man who oversaw the Canal's construction in early part of the 19th Century. The Festival is an "Aim for Zero" event devoted to offsetting its carbon footprint through a wide range of initiatives.
Website:
 http://www.rideaucanalfestival.ca
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