Big Rideau Lake Life | The 2016 Year in Review

Posted By Sean Horsfall On January 04, 2017
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Welcome to 2017! As Canadians we are famous for many things. Aside from our tolerant and open nature or our "over the top" politeness - we are known the world over for talking about our weather. This past summer may have been our crowning moment! What an amazing example of heat, and summer sunshine. I heard 95% positive remarks and it was such a treat to see everyone putting so many hours on their boats, having fun, and getting the most out of our precious time off. How many days we had of sun, and how many of them were over 30C was likely the biggest news from boating in Eastern Ontario and on the Big Rideau Lake in 2016. Here are some more items of interest from the season past:


  • Water Levels: Where oh where did it all go? We have a serious problem on our hands, and need a serious snow pack and spring rains to solve it. A very warm winter in 2015/2016, with no snow was the start of the problems. Add in very light spring rains and the driest/hottest summer for decades - and the reasons are clear. We need water in a big way.
  • Rideau Canal Traffic: The US and Quebec boater's returned to the Rideau and for local businesses, that was a huge plus. In the long run, those visitors spending money in our towns helps foster investment and maintenance of all things boating related. With Parks Canada announcing free lock passes for the upcoming season and Canada's 150th year on the horizon for 2017, we expect more of the same.
  • Cormorants: If you boat on Big Rideau, you likely have seen a significant increase in these birds that seem more pest than anything. The poor little island to thecornorants on big rideau.png west of Colonel By has ceased to live under their barrage and we can only hope they don't feel like spreading out to other islands.
  • Le Boat Rentals: Announced in early December, the European based canal cruiser rental boat company has deceived to expand into Canada for operations commencing in 2018. Many long term residents along with theBig Rideau lake Association will remember the fevered resistance to the "Three Bouys" introduction back in the 80s. This latest addition to our daily summer lives on the Rideau does not (at first glance) feel the same. We will continue to keep an eye on the developments and know that any investment into the Rideau, if done properly, could be good for the vast majority of us in the longer run.
  • Shipwreck is now CCs: At Rideau Ferry, in the same location as the historic and infamous Rideau Ferry Inn, the restaurant once run by Georgia McNally has changed hands to a new owner, Melanie. Farm to table fare on the Big Rideau Lake.
  • Freak Storm after Fireworks: If you happened to be out by Cow Island to take in an exciting fireworks show on July 2nd, you likely got a little more excitement than you bargained for! A flash storm whipped up just as the last of the fireworks were being wrapped up. As we all started to pull away, I think most of us were caught completely off guard - what a storm!
  • "The Hip" watched all over the lake: Gord Downie and the boys from Kingston were broadcasted and live streamed to cottages across the lake along with homes and bars across the country for their last concert ever. Most would agree that The Hip is iconic to cottaging in Canada and will be played around campfires for years to come.
  • Opinicon undergoes huge Reno: Fiona and her crew continue to make enormous strides in Chaffey's Locks as they bring back the gorgeous old resort from years of neglect. This year they were sidelined by a renovation in the main building that became a WAY bigger project than they intended. Hopefully in 2017 they will be back to normal operation in the dining room and bar.

There were likely many other investing things happening around the Rideau this year. What stories or interesting facts do you have to add to this list? Please share your boating or cottaging memories from the Big Rideau Lake in our slice of heaven that we play in here. 

Bring on 2017!