From its origins as a key strategic component in Britain’s plans to defend its colony of Upper Canada from a potential American invasion to the year-round recreational paradise we see today, the Rideau Canal has seen a lot of history.
Officially recognized as a world heritage site in 2007 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the canal remains a vitally important attraction, drawing thousands of visitors every year to Smiths Falls and the other communities along its banks from Ottawa to Kingston.
Rideau Paddlefest, which returns to Lower Reach Park June 11 after a two-year hiatus, is a celebration of the history and culture of the canal. The key attraction of the day is the voyageur canoe races. Teams of paddlers engage in friendly competition to see who can be first to propel the 34-foot canoes across the finish line.
The one-day event also features paddling demonstrations, a photo contest, the opportunity to try out canoes, kayaks and paddle boards, vendors and educational displays including climate change mitigation activities. This year’s Paddlefest will include a new event, a night paddle beginning at dusk.
Live musical entertainment will be offered throughout the afternoon.