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Our historic canals are in a crisis. Recent federal government budget cuts are resulting in reductions in staff and hours along the canals. The cuts will have an impact upon the tourism that drives so much of the economy along the canal corridors. In an attempt to reduce government expenditures they in turn are creating a climate that will result in less tax flowing to them from tourists and employers.

At the forefront is Parks Canada who is making the decisions on the reductions in operations. Parks Canada describes its mandate in regards to National Historic Sites as "An important part of Parks Canada's mandate involves protecting the health and wholeness, or commemorative integrity, of the national historic sites it operates. This means preserving the site's cultural resources, communicating its heritage values and national significance, and kindling the respect of people whose decisions and actions affect the site". All Canada's operating Historic Canals are managed by Parks Canada.

In the case of the Rideau Canal it is a World Heritage Site and therefore Parks Canada is responsible for the management of a site deemed significant in World History.

Finding information about the current situation is difficult as Parks Canada is not consulting with Canadians or releasing information on their plans. This NEWS column will attempt to serve as a source of information. Take the time to read the concerns and then write your local MP expressing your concerns.

Information specific to the Rideau Canal can be found at

Beyond the focus of Parks Canada the NEWS page will present an assortment of items relevant to Canadian Canals and Inland Waterways. News items from the United States, the UK and Europe will also be included from time to time to place our Canadian Canals in a world context.

16 July 2013 - Build it and they will come. Reduce the hours and increase the fees and they will stay home! Problems on the Rideau Canal. Ottawa Citizen Article (PDF)

16 Jan 2013 – Parks Canada proposes HUGE fee increase on historic canals

14 Jan 2013 – editorial – proposed fee increases for historic canals could significantly reduced boat traffic

17 Dec 2012 – letter to the editor on reduced Rideau Canal hours and business closure

9 Dec 2012 – reduced hours on the Rideau Canal lead to business closure.

3 Dec 2012 – Rideau Canal hours cut for 2013 season.

02 Nov 12 Rideau Canal workers to receive historic recognition for their role in helping build Canada.

01 Nov 12 New York State Canal System to re-open after Hurricane Sandy.

31 Oct 12 Rideau Canal Festival committee to disband. Lacking of funding from the City of Ottawa, the Government of Canada and Parks Canada lead to decision.

28 Oct 12 Parks Canada looking for private operator for Highland Links Golf Course in Cape Breton.

25 Oct 12 Trent-Severn Waterways operating season to remain unchanged for 2013.

23 Oct 12 Job cuts and reduced hours at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park will impair services and hurt the province's tourism industry, says the union representing Parks Canada workers.

21 Oct 12 Businesspeople and boaters who rely on the Rideau Canal are pleased that the federal government last week decided not to shorten the boating season.

19 Oct 12 Community effort leads to decision to leave the dates of the season for the Rideau Canal and Trent-Severn Waterway unchanged. However, there may be adjustment to the hours.

14 Oct 12 Who should pay for the Erie Canal?

10 Oct 12 – Sweeney House and the Blacksmith Shop at Jones Falls on the Rideau Canal will not open in 2013 due to Parks Canada cuts.

9 Oct 12 – Rideau Canal workers to receive recognition soon?

7 Oct 12 – Parks Canada cuts tour guides at Laurier House in Ottawa. Similar cuts happened to Riel House in Manitoba. The best interaction between a visitor and history is a knowledgeable tour guide, the proposed IPads are too impersonal, though they will please some.

1 Oct 12 – BBC Travel – Exploring New York’s Erie Canal

28 Sep 12 – Restoring three locks on the Hennepin Canal in Illinois will provide 52 miles of navigable waterway.

28 Sep 12 – Extreme weather and Conservative extremists a perfect storm for heritage waterways

28 Sep 12 – Creation of a cohesive Historic Canals Program. How the new upper management will look. Ontario Wateways Unit Management (PDF)

27 Sep 12 – Rideau Round Table planning a forum for next year looking at the future of the Rideau Canal.

24 Sep 12 – Recognition of Rideau Canal workers not being delayed by minister

24 Sep 12 – letter to the editor – Keep up Canal System

19 Sep 12 – Historic designation for Rideau Canal workers in limbo?

19 Sep 12 – Conservative Northumberland Quinte-West MP Rick Norlock mum on recommendations to Minister Kent on the Trent-Severn Waterway

18 Sep 12 – Conservative Haliburton – Kawartha Lakes – Brock MP Barry Devolin calls for new agency to manage the Trent-Severn Waterway

17 Sep 12 – letter to the editor – decline in historic sites

14 Sep 12 – Trent-Severn Waterway is more than just boaters – letter to the editors -

13 Sep 12 – Survey captures values of canal (Trent-Severn Waterway) – letter to the editors -

10 Sep 12 – opinion – It seems to me that a step forward for our Heritage Canals would be to remove them from Parks Canada. The green things, which Parks Canada does so well (see recent article below) are what they should focus on. The Heritage Canals and other elements of Canadian Heritage should be in a separate Agency and moved back to Heritage Canada. If that were done then Parks Canada under Environment Canada could focus on the parks and nature and Heritage Canada and its history and heritage experts, can focus on preserving, protecting and interpreting our heritage.

RW Sears, Editor

8 Sep 12 – Parks Canada – restoring nature

7 Sep 12 - The slow death of the Trent-Severn Waterway is by design, not misfortune, an opinion piece by Al Hoy Retired TSW maintenance supervisor

5 Sep 12 – Trent-Severn Waterway, Superintendent’s position cut.

30 Aug 12 – Rideau Canal World Heritage Site designation at risk? Bob Rae, a Rideau Canal summer resident, meets with citizens concerned with the impact of Parks Canada cuts.

30 Aug 12 – Parks Canada cuts impact Yukon’s Klondike region

23 Aug 12 – Parks Canada told to leave canal hours alone by Marina Operators

22 Aug 12 – Inland Waterways International writes to Environment Minister Peter Kent about cuts at Parks Canada. See IWI Letter to Minister Kent (PDF)

22 Aug 12 – Stephen Harper would like to create a National Park in the Arctic, but, he won’t commit to reversing Parks Canada cuts, so that they can properly look after the parks we already have.

21 Aug 2012 – The Landscape of Grand Pré, Nova Scotia has been named as Canada’s 16th World Heritage Site. UNESCO decided that Grand Pre is “so exceptional they are of importance to present and future generations of all humanity.”

“Parks Canada has a mandate to protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage to Canadians, today and in the future. Parks Canada is the Government of Canada’s representative for the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. Eleven of Canada’s 16 World Heritage Sites include areas managed by Parks Canada.”

One has to question if the current actions of Parks Canada, along the Rideau Canal, also a World Heritage Site, is how they carry out their mandate for present and future generations of all humanity.

Follow this link for the press release on Grand Pré.

20 Aug 12 – MPs to recommend that Parks Canada implement increased fees

17 Aug 2012 the Save Our Rideau website has added a new page about Parks Canada misinformation.

17 Aug 2012 Talks on canal cuts leave out key players?

17 Aug 2012 Waterway cuts to be finalized in the fall: CEO

16 Aug 2012 Rideau Canal cutbacks don't make sense - letter to the editor

15 Aug 2012 No closure, fees on Trent-Severn: Parks Canada

14 Aug 2012 Let's not lose canal history - letter to the editor

14 Aug 2012 Historic Canals - put taxes dollars to work - letter to the editor

13 Aug 2012 Panama Canal expansion hits $570 million snag

12 Aug 22 - Yukon, Marsh Lake: follow this link for some excellent photos of the lock,

11 Aug 2012 Rideau Canal cuts extremely 'disproportionate'

11 Aug 2012 union head warns cuts will hurt Campbellford - Trent-Severn Waterway

10 Aug 2012 Peter Kent, Environment Minister's office, denies cuts are 'disproportionate'

10 Aug 2012 Rideau Canal cuts disproportionate

12 Aug 22 - Yukon, Marsh Lake: follow this link for some excellent photos of the lock,

9 Aug 12 – A group of retired Parks Canada senior managers have joined the fight in opposing job cuts and service realignments on two of the provinces major waterways.

See their Media Release and Letter to MPs (PDF)

8 Aug 12 – Previous stories indicate that our Historic Canals will operate under a new structure. The website has added a page to the site outlining structur changes as we understand them.

8 Aug 12 - Parks Canada is removing heritage staff and expertise. The cuts to their archaeological staff is listed here:

7 Aug 12 - The Hamilton Port Authority is celebrating their 100th Anniversary this year. The Art Gallery of Hamilton has an exhibit that tells the ports history in pictures.

6 Aug 12 - US National Parks Service to demolish replica canal boat, to be replaced when the money is available?

6 Aug 12 - Parks Canada cuts at Bruce Peninsula National Park and Five Fathoms Marine Park. Bayshore Broadcasting Article (PDF)

2 Aug 12 - Parks Canada cuts, comments from meeting held by Leeds-Grenville MP Gordon Brown.

2 Aug 12 - Rideau Canal Landscape Strategy, input sought at meetings

1 Aug 12 - Northern Ireland examines scheme to spend £80 million ($128 million) to re-open the Lagan Canal. Contrast this with the cuts being made to our Canadian Historic Canals.

30 Jul 12 - Parks Canada cuts to hours and season on the Trent-Severn Waterway and the Rideau Canal, an opinion piece by an employee on the Kawatha Voyageur.

12 Jul 12 - Parks Canada, Rideau Canal job cuts.

11 Jul 12 - Parks Canada, Rideau Canal job cuts, Ontario Waterway Unit to be created.

9 Jul 12 - Parks Canada, Trent-Severn Waterway Headquarters cuts, Ontario Waterway Unit to be created.

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