Visitor guidelines

Rideau Canal National Historic Site

Our protected areas are unique places and require unique rules to protect them. The Rideau Canal adheres to the Historic Canal Regulations which prohibit or restrict a number of activities.

Breaking the law in a National Park or National Historic Site can result in consequences including evictions or tickets, or in more serious cases, court appearances and/or large fines.


Aircraft are regulated under Section 17 of the Historic Canals Regulations. All aircraft must comply with the Canadian Aviation Regulations.


Drinking alcohol and boating is illegal, similar to drinking and driving

Drinking and boating

The rules for operating a boat while impaired are the same as for driving a car. It is against the law. Anyone convicted of piloting a boat while impaired may lose their driver’s licence. It is also against the law to have a vessel underway while there is any open liquor not stored in accordance with the Ontario Liquor License Act. You may drink on your private vessel, but it can only be done in a boat that is equipped with a permanently fitted head (washroom), sleeping accommodations, cooking facilities and is properly docked or at anchor.

Parks Canada property
Consuming alcohol is only allowed at registered campsites, private boats and residences, or on licensed premises. Consumption of alcoholic or having an open container of alcohol beverages is not permitted on Parks Canada property, including: docks, picnic areas, shelters and public areas (such as beaches and trails). Possession and consumption is enforced in accordance with the Ontario Liquor License Act.

Alcohol bans

During certain periods of the year, specific lockstation campsites may have temporary alcohol bans in effect. Alcohol bans will be identified through notices posted online and at lockstations.

Area closures and restrictions

Area closures and restrictions are sometimes needed to protect natural or cultural resources or for visitor safety reasons. Closures are enforceable by law. Closure notices will be posted at the trailheads, access points, park offices, and information centres. Information on closures is also available on our Important Bulletins page.


Speed limits
  • There are 75 enforced speed limit zones along the Rideau Canal National Historic Site
  • The speed limit is 10km/h (6 mph) in most places
  • Obey all speed limit signs where posted
  • Police officers and Parks Canada Wardens patrol speed limit zones and may charge boaters found exceeding the speed limit

Learn more about speed limits on the Rideau Canal

Boat wake
  • 'No Wake' zones are established at various sections of the canal
  • Pay attention to No Wake signs where posted
  • When travelling through a 'no wake' zone, cruising close to shores, navigating through narrow channels, or passing by other boats, swimmers or docks, operate as close to dead slow as possible while maintaining control of your vessel

See an example of a No Wake sign

Water-skiing, wakeboarding and tubing
  • No towing in navigation channels. Water-skiing, wakeboarding and tubing are prohibited.
Inflatable vessels
  • Any type of inflatable is considered a vessel when it is used for navigating and each occupant/passenger requires a life vest and safety equipment


Tent camping

Tent camping is allowed at Rideau Canal National Historic Sites in designated campgrounds and lockstations only. Reservations are not required, but permits are issued on a first-come first-served basis at the discretion of the lockmaster. The permit holder for the campsite is responsible for the site, including cleanliness, noise levels, and actions of visitors

Learn more about camping at lockstations

Prohibited camping

Camping (including sleeping in a vehicle) is not allowed in roadside pullouts, trailheads, and day-use areas

Noise and park enjoyment

You are not allowed to interfere with others’ quiet enjoyment of the park during any part of the day or night. This includes loud music and shouting in campgrounds or in day use areas.

Quiet hours

Quiet hours are enforced in all campgrounds. Please remember, even quiet conversations can carry through a forested area.


Cannabis is legalized and strictly regulated in Canada. It is your responsibility to understand federal, provincial, and municipal regulations for cannabis use.

Where cannabis can be used at Parks Canada places

Commercial film and photography permits

Commercial filming activities have special considerations. All commercial activity is subject to business licencing and permits. Contact the location for details on whether your activity requires a permit.
Frequently requested: Film & Video productions


Drone use is prohibited at Parks Canada sites without proper authorization. This includes lockstations, their respective properties as well as the marked navigation channel. Drone use at Parks Canada sites will only be authorized for a small number of non-recreational purposes.

Learn more about our drone usage rules


Fires are only allowed in designated fire rings. Random fires are not allowed on National Historic Sites. Charcoal barbecues and propane fire rings are permitted. Please keep your campfire safe for you and the environment by following these rules:

  • Keep fires small
  • Never leave a fire unattended
  • Dump cold BBQ ashes into a fire pit

Firewood can not be brought into the park. Transporting wood from elsewhere may spread invasive insects and disease. Firewood must be purchased within the site and is available at the lockstation. Do not burn garbage or collect deadfall from the surrounding forest for burning.

Protect your forests from the Emerald Ash Borer

The Emerald Ash Borer is a highly destructive invasive insect which attacks and kills all species of ash. It has the capability to spread rapidly throughout trees and forests. A single piece of infected firewood can be detrimental to thousands of trees and forests.

Firearms and hunting

  • Hunting is not regulated by Parks Canada on the Rideau Canal and is permitted in accordance with other federal, provincial and municipal laws
  • Firearms may be transported in accordance with the Firearms Act
  • To report illegal harvesting of fish or wildlife, please call the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry TIPS line at 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667)


Use of, selling, or purchasing fireworks, or any other type of explosive, is not permitted within a National Historic Site.


  • Fishing is permitted at Rideau Canal National Historic sites
  • Ontario Fishing Rules & Regulations apply
  • No fishing within 10 metres of a lock or approach wharf
  • No fishing from a bridge over a navigation channel


Storing food
  • Please store all food, drinks, and wildlife attractants (scented products) in your vehicle or boat
  • At oTENTik sites, food and attractants must be stored in the storage bins located on the outside deck
  • Please do not leave any garbage or recycling on your campsite or in the food storage bins upon departure
Impact on wildlife

Accidentally leaving food out or not properly disposing of garbage teaches animals that humans provide food. Once the animal has had a taste of human food, it may begin to seek it above all other sources of natural food.

Garbage and litter

Never litter.

Garbage and recycling bins are located at all lockstations on the Rideau Canal. Please use them to dispose of your waste.

Guests of historic accommodations, oTENTik and camping sites are expected to use lockstation bins to dispose of all waste upon check-out.

Good times in the great outdoors are safer and more rewarding when you Leave No Trace of your visit. A good rule of thumb is to leave “no trace on the place” and “no trace on others’ space”.

Leaving food out in a campsite can attract wildlife. Wildlife is also attracted to non-food items that smell like food including garbage, dishes, pots, coolers and even toiletries.

Motorized vehicles (off-road driving, snowmobiles, ATVs)

Municipalities within the Rideau Canal may have approved ATV/snowmobile trails. Off-road driving is only permitted in designated parking areas.

Natural and historic objects

It is illegal to collect plants, mushrooms, berries, animals, animal parts (including antlers), fossils, driftwood, rocks, signs, or any other historic or natural object. If you believe you have found something significant, leave the item in place and report your finding to the nearest Parks Canada office. Please leave these natural items for others to enjoy.

Overnight mooring

Reserving space
  • Mooring docks can not be reserved
  • Mooring is offered on a first-come, first-served basis
Owner's responsibility

Boaters are responsible for the care of their vessels during the mooring period. Vessels should not be left unattended for long periods of time.

Learn more about overnight mooring

Paddlecraft (kayaks, canoes, rowboats)

Stand up paddleboards (SUP) are not recommended on the canal due to increased boat traffic, and are prohibited in all locks.

Required safety equipment

For more information on boating safely on the Rideau Canal, please visit the Office of Boating Safely from Transport Canada.


For safety reasons, paddlers should stay away from any dams and waste weirs. Watch out for boatwash or wake, and be prepared to handle the on-coming waves. Check weather forecasts before heading out, and choose your route accordingly.

Learn more about paddling safety


Please park only in designated areas and areas where you do not pose a risk to others. Blocking access to roads and entrances could impede the movement of emergency vehicles and could therefore have a negative effect on public safety. If a parking lot is full, find the next closest lot and walk to your destination. Vehicles parked in "no parking" zones may be ticketed and/or towed at owner's expense.

Passes and permits

Passes and permits are required for lockage and overnight mooring on the Rideau Canal. Permits are available at most lockstations, and can also be purchased by phone or online.

More information about passes and permits

Pedal assist e-bikes

There is no Parks Canada restriction on the use of pedal assist e-bikes on the Rideau Canal.

Pets and service animals

  • At all times, pets must be kept on a leash or in suitable confinement
  • Service animals are welcome, in the company of their handlers. Please keep service animals on a leash or harness during your visit
  • Don’t leave your pet unattended in a vehicle, on your campsite, in an oTENTik, or anywhere else during your visit to the Rideau Canal National Historic Site.
  • Wildlife, weather, and an unfamiliar environment can be scary or dangerous for your pet
  • Don’t allow your pet to chase any wild animal - it’s illegal and dangerous
  • Pets are not allowed in some areas. Look for notices at trailheads and info centres to find out where these restrictions are
  • Remember to clean up after your pet

Quiet hours

Quiet hours are from 10:00 pm – 6:00 am. Please also help others enjoy peace and quiet throughout the day.

Smoking and Vaping

Be aware of provincial smoking and vaping regulations regarding distances from buildings, playgrounds, and other facilities.

Cannabis is legalized and strictly regulated in Canada. It is your responsibility to understand federal, provincial, and municipal regulations for cannabis use.

Where cannabis can be used at Parks Canada places


  • No swimming or diving in a navigation channel or within 40 metres of a lock gate or dam
  • Jumping from a lock gate, bridge, dam or other structure is strictly prohibited


In consideration of future guests, please do not urinate around your campsite or from your boat. Washroom facilities are often located just a short walk away at the lockstation.


Please do not feed wildlife. When fed, animals like deer and raccoons become habituated to human contact and are at a higher risk of becoming aggressive. Keeping a safe distance from all wildlife. Viewing them in a respectful manner will reduce the likelihood of a negative wildlife encounter.

  • You are not allowed to entice, pet (or attempt to pet), harass, or feed wild animals in National Parks and National Historic Sites.
  • Bring your binoculars or a telephoto lens to capture that once-in-a-lifetime photo of a wild animal in its natural environment.
  • Be respectful when photographing wildlife. Animal behaviour is unpredictable.
  • Obstructing traffic is an offence and a hazard to other motorists. Only pull over in designated pullouts for viewing wildlife.

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