Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Well Fortified

See how the St. Lawrence River runs from Lake Ontario to
Montreal? The Rideau Canal, which angles north to Ottawa,
takes boat traffic AWAY from the U.S. border

Yesterday we played tourist in Kingston, but tourist-with-a-purpose: We were about to start our cruise on the Rideau Canal. We wanted to see the two other Kingston attractions, Fort Henry and a set of four defensive towers, that--together with the canal--make up a World Heritage Site.

Yankees, Go Home

Taken together, the canal, fort, and towers were one big integrated defensive system, engineered by British Loyalists in the 1830s to repel those pesky Americans.

Cap (tiny figure at left) explores the flight of four locks at
Kingston Mills.
If you're familiar with the story of the Erie Canal, the story of how the Rideau was built is much the same: difficult terrain, workers by the score succumbing to malaria, and ultimately, brilliant engineering solutions (hence the World Heritage designation.

The Yankees Stayed Home

Here's the funny thing: not one of these three structures, ingeniously constructed at great cost, was ever needed for defense.

Even the locktender's houses were fortified!
In its time, the Rideau was commercially successful . . . till--like the Erie--railroads outcompeted it.

Today, the canal is a major destination for boaters, anglers, and history buffs. And ironically, the majority of boaters on the canal are American.

We had a dreamy first day on the Rideau, traversing a total of seven locks.  We tied up above the lock at Upper Brewers Falls, rural parklike and peaceful, and spent a long time watching a great blue heron fish for its dinner in the shallow water of the empty lock.

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