Feds plan series of interpretive displays to help visitors understand Rideau Canal history


Nearly a decade after the Rideau Canal was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the federal government is looking to construct a series of interpretive “nodes” to help visitors understand the waterway’s historical significance.

In a procurement notice published this week, the Department of Canadian Heritage said it’s looking for a contractor to fabricate seven stainless steel structures that will hold graphic display panels on the canal’s shorelines.

The installations will be located at the Ottawa Locks, Ottawa Convention Centre, Pretoria Bridge, Lansdowne Park, Dow’s Lake, the Central Experimental Farm and Hartwell’s Locks.

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The goal is to create a prominent and visually attractive outdoor exhibit that explains the symbolic and cultural importance of the Rideau Canal, the federal government says.

While the new display panels will help visitors better understand the history behind the canal, many tourism observers have long called for a much bolder approach to enhancing Ottawa’s shorelines.

The canal, as well as the Ottawa and Rideau rivers, are virtually void of cafes, restaurants and other attractions. This represents a missed opportunity to some residents.

“The single question most often asked of me is, ‘What happened to the waterfront in Ottawa?’ We need to fix that … we just don’t have any life along the river,” former Westin Ottawa general manager John Jarvis said in 2012. “We have very few restaurants, (and) there are just not a whole lot of economic generators along our waterfronts.”

Several years ago, 8 Locks’ Flat Canal Bistro opened near the University of Ottawa and started to serve drinks and food.

It’s since been replaced by Terrace on the Canal.

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