Conversation and contemplation come easy aboard a 30-foot vintage cruiser chugging the Rideau Canal from Chaffey’s Lock to Jones Falls and back, a four-hour steam. Captain Lance Jervis-Read takes you along the canal – a UNESCO World Heritage site – in a lovingly converted lobster boat that runs on an electric motor (no exhaust, no noise). Look out for critters taking a rest on the forested shoreline (it remains largely unchanged since the 200 kilometres of wilderness was developed from Ottawa to Kingston), and experience the famed waterway as its founders did – minus the malaria.
Moored at Chaffey’s Lock, 613-272-0222
In boutique-rich Merrickville, you’ll find the 19th-century storefront of this culinary emporium, where the award-winning mustard is prepared at the on-site kitchen. “It’s loaded with flavour because we use whole mustard seeds,” explains owner Janet Campbell, who offers 14 varieties, including Hot Whisky and Canadian Maple – a favourite of the Prime Minister.
311 St. Lawrence St., Merrickville , 613-269-3752
The former home of Perth’s prominent Stewart family, this 1878 property will have you feeling all to the manor born with its mix of old-world charm (solarium bar, original William Morris tapestries) and modern comforts (Wi-Fi, gluten-free breakfast menu). Book one of the southern-facing suites for views of the impressive grounds, featuring mature apple trees and a garden spanning two city lots.
23 Drummond St. W., Perth , 613-264-0050
4. Jones Falls Lockstation
Explore this series of four historic stone locks rising over Whitefish and Sand lakes to follow in the footsteps of Lieutenant Colonel John By, the man in charge of building the Rideau Canal. For a nature rush, loop the Redpath Trail (of Redpath sugar fame) through old pine forest and delicate plant life to marvel at one of By’s most spectacular engineering feats: the Stone Arch Dam.
For directions call 613-283-5170
5. The Chip Witch
Fresh-cut-fry fans (who isn’t?) will delight in the extra-crispy goodness found at this small roadside takeout, where the potatoes are still hand peeled. You can grab a seat at one of the picnic tables out front, but to properly enjoy your spuds, head to the canal banks and watch the boats chug by.
Main St. E. at Elgin St., Merrickville , 613-269-3750
Three more ways to soak in history
1. The tales of Ottawa’s surprising early years (bawdy, brawling Bytown!) are well told at the Bytown Museum by the Ottawa Lock Station.
1 Canal Lane , 613-234-4570
2. In Perth, historian Susan Code makes the past come to life on walking tours of Stewart Park, Tay River Basin and Code’s Mill.
3. Clash for control of the continent? Canal ingenuity? Learn it all at the five-floor Rideau Canal Museum , which details canal construction from 1826 to 1831.
34 Beckwith St. S., Smiths Falls , 613-284-0505
Originally published in enRoute .