The Rideau Canal has opened for the season, and what has become a bit of a personal tradition, I've gone out to enjoy the first day. While the parts abutting Centretown are not yet open, it's certainly something to go out and enjoy!
[Note: The Canal is only open from Pretoria Bridge to Bank Street, excluding the bridges and Patterson Creek. If you're coming on the South side from Bank, keep walking NE on Echo Drive until you get to the stairs down to Colonel By Drive at Pig Island (and similarly on the North side), as the stairs at Bank Street are on the closed side of the bridge.]
Before we get to today's shots, allow me to share some photos from the last couple of months that document preparations.
In October, the Canal was drained of water, exposing the ugly green algae coating much of the rock. Here's a shot of the algae with Lansdowne Park's Aberdeen Pavillion in the background:
This is when the chalets are installed.
Here are a bunch of them at Fifth Avenue.
In late November, they put gravel down at the stairways so that they would have a good fitting at the correct height.
This was when the canal started to ice over. Here's progress on Nature taking its course between the Corktown Footbridge and Laurier:
The ice was thick enough at this point to trap the debris beneath it, but thin enough to see that debris. The vines in this shot seem to be trying to push out. It was also neat to see leaves blowing across the surface of the ice (not pictured).
Fast forward to December 30th. The ice had been flooded and plowed, and just needed a couple more days of cold to compensate for a brief warm spell. Here a City plow clears the pathway alongside the canal, distributing salt from its trailer hopper:
And today the canal finally opened! In the afternoon, it got pretty crowded on the short stretch of ice that was open. Here's the crowd of people getting on at Pretoria Bridge (note the long line of boots along the wall!)
They were all getting on there because the Canal was only open from Pretoria to Bank (excluding the bridges and Patterson Creek):
The washrooms, however, were open. The washroom trailer at Fifth Avenue has a new ramp to be wheelchair accessible. The stairs next to it were also new and wider than the old ones (some of which are still in use at other entrances).
The skate sharpening/rental hut was also open. Don't let this pre-noon shot fool you--there were three or four lines over ten people deep to get in there in the afternoon!
And the yellowjackets were out in full force. The NCC officers, paramedics, and Skate Patrol were all out. Word is that more of the canal will open on the weekend, though I don't recall which stretch. I grabbed a photo of a pair of Patrollers heading into the sun (this photo has been altered slightly):
Altogether it was a fun day. I enjoyed getting out and getting some exercise. I'd have gotten a Beavertail, too, had the lineup not been halfway across the canal!