Rideau Roundtable

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Voyageur Canoe Experiences
For the past number of years, the Rideau Roundtable has partnered with Paddle Canada and Parks Canada to host interpretive tours along the Rideau Waterway. What makes these tours unique is that they take place in 34-foot replica voyageur canoes with experienced guides in voyageur costume!

With up to 36 participants (up to 15 paddlers and 3 non-paddling participants per canoe), the tours provide a leisurely exploration of both the natural and historical aspects of the Rideau Waterway. Our instructors and guides are called gouvernail (pronounced gou-ver-nye) provide paddling instruction, interpretation of nature, and historical tales. These tours are enjoyable for groups of all ages.

Rideau Experience - photo by Simon Lunn

A tour usually last all day and are spent exploring one of the wetlands which can be found along the river, discussing its environmental and historical features. A tour includes both on-the-water and on-shore activities. Tours can be arranged which involve being “locked through” a set of locks during the tour, but the lockage fees are at an additional cost.

Tours can be customized to fit the needs of any group. Use the Contact Us link to get more details.

Who: All ages and skill levels are welcome aboard. With room for 15 paddlers, 3 non-paddlers and a Paddle Canada certified gouvernail in each canoe, the work is distributed and everyone can enjoy the ride.

Tours are perfect for group picnics, outings for youth groups, family reunions, day camps, festivals, or any day when you want to be out on the water and learning about nature.

What: The main focus of these tours is ecology and history along the Rideau. Depending on the interests of your group, the emphasis of any particular tour can be shifted to suit your needs.

For example, you can book a teambuilding session for your company or organization. Group activities on the shore precede the canoe trip on the Rideau River. There you can learn not only how to work together to paddle a 34-foot canoe, but also learn how to work with nature to preserve wetlands.

Tours may be combined with restaurant meals, guest speakers, or Rideau Canal Visitor Centre visits at additional cost. Use the “Ask us” link to get further details.

Where: Although the main tours are through the Rideau River Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Merrickville, the Smiths Falls Swale, and an associated set of locks, the canoes can be trailered to any number of nearby locations where there is boat-launch access.

When: The canoes are available on a first-come-first-served basis, any day of the week at any time between May 24 and Thanksgiving. Some of the best times are early evening, when the river is often calm and the heat of the day is ending. *** The trips take place rain or shine, but the canoes will not go out on the water during thunderstorms, or in winds exceeding 8 knots.

Why: Aside from getting wonderful exercise spending time with friends, family and/or colleagues in the fresh air, you will come away from our tours with a better understanding of the ecology and history of the Rideau Waterway, and, hopefully, with a heightened interest in environmental stewardship.

Cost of the tours

$700.00 per day, which includes the use of two 34-foot voyageur canoes and two gouvernail for the day. Unless explicitly included in a package, meals and lockage fees are extra. Lockage fees are charged at the rates established by Parks Canada.

Treasures of the Rideau
Tours may be combined with restaurant meals, guest speakers (with experience in botany, bird watching, etc.), or Rideau Canal Visitor Centre visits at additional cost. Use the Contact Us link to get further details.

  • This program meets all of the safety requirements established by various Transport Canada Regulation
  • PFD’s are provided to each participant.
  • The canoes have flotation protection built into them.
  • Gouvernail are certified as “big canoe leaders” by Paddle Canada
  • Gouvernail have been taught CPR and First Aid.
  • Before loading the canoes, each group is shown water safety tips and given paddling instruction.
  • Canoes will not go out on the water during thunderstorms or high winds.
  • It is hot on the water and there is no shade to protect you: remember to wear sunscreen and/or a hat, and bring water.


Tours are offered anywhere along the Rideau where there is launch access.

Canoe Tripping and Gouvernail

The Rideau Roundtable also offers multi-day voyageur canoe tours on the Rideau Waterway. Starting from wherever you choose, as we progress down the river, our knowledgeable gouvernail will tell you about the history and nature of the Rideau and its towns and villages.

The Roundtable can also provide guides for any type of canoe tour on the Rideau: birdwatching, historical exploration, general touring, team building, eco-touring, or adventure paddling.

For details see the Canoe Tripping and Guides page

Rideau Wildlife

We have produced two brochures illustrating various types of wildlife and vegetation that you might see on your Rideau journey. For details see the Rideau Wildlife Page

Contact Us

Rideau Experience Coordinator
c/o Rideau Roundtable
[email protected]

© The Rideau Roundtable