In the winter, Parks Canada
keeps 8 kilometres of the length of the Rideau Canal
flat and clear of snow
for people to skate on. They drill holes in its surface every so often to determine how thick the ice is, and they close it off once the ice gets too thin. They paint little bright orange circles around the holes so that people can avoid them.
The construction of the canal included the construction of 24 dams and 46 locks. To this day, most of the locks are still cranked open by muscle power. During its construction, many workers died from malaria caught from mosquitos which thrived in the swampy area they were working in (the area which would later grow into the city of Ottawa).
The canal is home to catfish, ducks, and lots of seaweed in the summer, and of course the ice skaters and pedestrians in the winter. The canal cuts transit time for many work and school commuters by a significant amount, because they do not have to take the nearest bridge.