Canada's Transport Minister officially opens Canal

    Minister Baird highlights contribution of canal tourism to local economy

    OTTAWA, May 15 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable John Baird, Minister of
Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, on behalf of the Honourable Jim
Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks
Canada, today launched the 177th season of uninterrupted service on the Rideau
Canal National Historic Site of Canada.
    "The Rideau Canal is the artery that travels right to the heart of the
beautiful City of Ottawa," said Minister Baird. "Every year, avid boaters
bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to our local economy, giving Ottawa an
extra boost to our regional economy. This is a great day for our City and
local businesses."
    The Rideau Canal designers and builders overcame huge challenges to
create the most outstanding slackwater canal system in the world, and one of
the first to be designed specifically for steam-powered vessels. Today, this
marvel - widely recognized to be one of the most significant engineering
achievements in 19th century North America - is the most intact and
best-preserved historic canal of its era. It remains open and fully functional
along its entire length, with most of its original structures intact.
    Officially opened in the summer of 1832 to provide a secure
transportation route between Montreal and Kingston, the Rideau Canal was built
in just six years. Its 202-kilometre route, stretching from the Ottawa River
to Lake Ontario, includes 47 locks and 74 dams. From 1832 into the 1850s, it
was used primarily for commercial purposes. Since then, it has become one of
Canada's foremost recreational waterways: drawing boaters in the summer,
skaters in the winter and canal enthusiasts all year-long, from around the
world. It is also an educational attraction, with Parks Canada staff and
displays available along the canal to help visitors understand its engineering
and historic features, as well as its unique place in Canada's history.
    "The Rideau Canal is a defining feature of Eastern Ontario and provides
our region with beauty, recreation and a unique sense of history," said
Minister Baird. "It has been linking communities for all of its 177 years."

    Designated a national historic site of Canada in 1925, the Rideau Canal,
including property from three other national historic sites of Canada - Fort
Henry, the Kingston Fortifications (including the Martello Towers) and the
Merrickville Blockhouse, were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June

For further information:

For further information: Chris Day, Press Secretary, Office of Canada's
Transport and Infrastructure Minister, (613) 991-0700; Elizabeth Pilon,
Communications Manager, Eastern Ontario Field Unit, Parks Canada, (613)
283-7199 x 266

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