The Rideau Canal is an engineering masterpiece that permits boats to navigate the Rideau River against Ottawa's downward elevation. It was originally built in order to offer an alternate route and access to the St. Laurence River from Kingston in case of an American naval embargo.

The Rideau Canal is about 125 miles (200 kilometers) long, and its historical locks are still in operation today. The canal connects through many lakes along its path, and about 12 miles (19 km) of its waterway are human-built.

The Rideau Canal waterway has been declared a World Heritage Site and is the oldest operating canal in North America.

During winter months in Ottawa, the canal becomes one of the longest managed skating rink in the world.