Parliament Hill
June 2001 005

Parliament Hill, June 2001 005

Overlooking the Colonel By Locks & Pont Alexandra.
June 14, 2001. Photo: Andy Sorfleet

Listen to Ottawa Valley Reel (1.6 M)
By Edward P. Arsenault.
Field Recordings of Prince Edward Island Fiddlers
© 1996 By Mel Bay Publications, Inc., Pacific, MO 63069

Colonel By Locks & the Rideau Canal

In 1857, Queen Victoria decided that Bytown, a lumber settlement named after Lieutenant Colonel John By, was to be Canada's capital. Ottawa was chosen over larger cities in the Dominion in part because of the Rideau Canal.

Colonel By of the Royal Engineers came from London to build the Rideau Canal from Bytown to Kingston in 1826. The Rideau Canal opened an arms supply route from Montreal to Kingston, in case of U.S. invasion.

In five short summers, some 2,000 mostly Irish immigrant workers, with shovels, pick axes and gun powder dug a 200 km channel with 47 locks through the wild swamps and rock.

The locks shown here which bridge Parliament Hill and the Chateau Laurier Hotel are the final gateway to the Ottawa River. Beside the Colonel By Locks sits Ottawa's oldest stone building, the Bytown Museum, built in 1827 as a treasury and storehouse during the construction of the Rideau Canal. The Rideau Canal is now boasted as the "longest skating rink in the world."

After Confederation in 1867, Ottawa officially took on the role of federal capital.


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Created: MAR. 17, 2002
Last Modified: DEC. 06, 2006

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