The rich history of the Smiths Falls waterway dates back to 1826 when Lieutenant-Colonel, John By, was tasked with the construction of the Rideau Canal. In a remarkable feat of engineering, the over 200km long Canal was built in just six years. Fast forward to 2007, the Rideau Canal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the first of its kind in Ontario. Being located in the heart of the Canal, Smiths Falls continues to play an important part in the preservation and celebration of this beautiful waterway.
The Rideau Canal is the best preserved slack water canal in the world, and the only one from the 19th century that still operates along its original watercourse, with its original structures intact. This engineering marvel illustrates a globally important stage in human history – the clash for control of British North America. Smiths Falls encourages everyone to experience this unique historical site!
Please visit the following websites for more information on the UNESCO World Heritage Site:
The Smiths Falls Bascule Bridge was built between 1912 and 1913 by the Canadian Northern Railway to carry their main line over the canal. This Scherzer Rolling Lift Bascule Bridge is a novel concept in movable bridges. The rolling lift system was introduced in 1895 by Chicago engineer William Scherzer and was built by Dominion Bridge Company. Despite being a steel bridge, very little power was required to operate it due to the unique rolling lift action that almost eliminates friction and the overhead concrete counterweight. Now a National Historic Site of Canada, the Smiths Falls Bascule Bridge stands permanently raised.
The Rideau Swale
The Rideau Swale is a 385-hectare Class I wetland – a cattail marsh. It contains approximately 250 identified plant species and similar to other marshes on the Rideau, is a haven for wildlife, particularly waterfowl. You’ll also find lots of frogs and turtles when exploring the Swale.
Fishing the Rideau
The Rideau Canal waterway and surrounding lakes are a favourite destination for anyone who loves to fish. The area is famous for its bass fishing, but perch, trout, pike and walleye are also plentiful. Smiths Falls is just a short drive or boat ride away from some of Eastern Ontario’s best fishing spots, including Bass Lake, Lower Rideau Lake and Big Rideau Lake.
Victoria Park Campground and Marina
Conveniently located in the middle of town alongside the Rideau Canal, Victoria Park is a great park for RV campers and boaters to settle in for a fun and relaxing stay. Conveniently located just steps from downtown where restaurants, pubs, gift shops, banks, festivals, museums, farmer’s market and sensational shopping awaits you! The park features a tourist information site along with over 50 serviced camp sites with 30 amp power, 30 boat tie ups (finger docks). Additionally, water hook ups, pump station, laundry & shower facilities and a playground with wading pool are also available.
The canal is known for its impressive history that carved out the heritage and landscape of the area. Visit the five lock stations surrounding and within the town for an interactive and authentic experience of life on the Rideau Canal.
Poonamalie Lock Station
Features a beautiful lockmasters house and is a great destination for those wanting to relax, picnic and camp. It is also a great launching point for paddling the Rideau Lakes and Swale.
Location: Poonamalie Road
GPS N 44 53.580’ W 76 03.340’
Detached Lock Station
Features the Bascule Bridge, a rolling-lift railway bridge built in 1914, now in a permanently raised position. A visit to this national historic site is the perfect starting point for a trip to the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario.
Location: Abbott Street
GPS N 44 53.755’ W 76 01.630’
Combined Lock Station
Is located in the heart if the community and is the single highest lift of any lock along the canal. Be sure to visit the Rideau Canal Visitor Centre, located in a 1890’s former grain mill, a short walk from the lock station.
Location: Beckwith Street
GPS N 44 53.815’ W 76 01.250’
Old Slys Lock Station
This lock station was constructed to bypass Slys’ Rapids, which powered a grist and carding mill in the 1850’s. Learn about the mill owner at his former home, the Heritage House Museum, a short walk from the lock station.
Location: Old Slys Road
GPS N 44 53.590’ W 75 00.250
Edmonds Lock Station
Is a rural retreat, great for picnics and bird watching.
Location: County Road 17
GPS N 44 52.650’ W 75 59.015
The Smiths Falls community is well known for its welcoming and active lifestyle. Discover the benefits for yourself with a tour down one of the Town’s trails while taking in our natural wildlife and scenery. The Cataraqui Trail, Heritage Trail, and the Rideau Trail are all multi-use and open year-round for walking, hiking, bird watching, photography, cycling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.
The Town of Smiths Falls is a picturesque community offering lush green spaces along the banks of the historic Rideau Canal waterway, a UNESCO World heritage site.
Surrounding the canal and three community lock stations are acres of charming parkland providing the opportunity to relish outdoor leisure and recreational activities. Each park offers a picturesque environment near the waterway, with natural wildlife, picnic tables, maintained walking trails, and the chance to observe the magic of boats being lifted from one story of water to the next.
During the summer months under the water tower visitors are welcome to enjoy free movies under the stars with featured films each week. Grab a blanket and some snacks and take a seat on the lawn. If sports are your thing, the Smiths Falls park lands have numerous baseball, soccer and football fields to offer or bring a racket and enjoy some tennis along the water front. The parks are also offer family-fun activities, cool off in our community splash pad or burn off some energy on one of our many play structures or swing sets. These parks will keep you coming back year-round