PhotoHunter: Lock(s)

Here in Ottawa, one cannot help but be aware that we are living in an historically significant place.

Apart from being the capital of Canada, on a daily basis, we pass by, over, under, and through history. In my case, I cross over one piece of history every day on my way to work.

The Rideau Canal, the northern end, at least, begins in Ottawa, right beside Parliament Hill. It bisects the city, cutting it in half — or thirds, really, assisted by the Rideau River, which is the reason for the Canal’s existence.

The Rideau Canal is a working waterway, a historic feature, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The necessity of a canal was realized back during the War of 1812, when Canadians (and the British) beat back invading American forces. Americans repeatedly argue that “Canadians” didn’t have anything to do with the War of 1812 because we didn’t exist as a nation until 1867. The populace, however, considered themselves as British Subjects but more significantly “Canadians”. Indeed, the vast majority of those who defended Canada were citizen militias and individuals, NOT British troops!. It was a citizen militia, in fact, that invaded the United States and burned the White House.

I digress….

It was realized that, should Americans invade again, Canada would be hard pressed to bring men and materiel through the rough country should Americans block access to the main waterway, the St. Lawrence River.

In 1826, Lieutenant Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers was assigned the daunting and seemingly insurmountable task of designing and engineering a canal system from the Ottawa River to Kingston, then the main city in Upper Canada. He and the builders of the canal fought the elements, Malaria, the terrain, and bureaucracy, finally finishing the canal in November 1931.

Colonel John By supervising construction of the locks at Bytown - C.W. Jeffreys

Colonel John By supervising construction of the locks at Bytown - C.W. Jeffreys

He started near the canal in a natural fault beside what would later become Parliament Hill in a place which would later become Ottawa, later named By Town in his honour, but then an unnamed rough and tumble habitation of lumber shacks and mills. The builders followed a known route known only to local Indians who traveled to and from Lake Ontario and The Ottawa River.

In 1832 the canal opened and consisted of 47 masonry locks and 52 dams creating a 202 km (125 mile) waterway, one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century. It remains the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America.

The same locks as they appeared in 1839  - W.H. Bartlett

The same locks as they appeared in 1839 - W.H. Bartlett

Sadly, By, himself became the scapegoat of disagreements over the final cost, the original estimates, and government in-fighting and was removed from the project… on the day when the Canal opened.

At the very instant that Colonel By was being given an overwhelming welcome in Smiths Falls, thousands of miles away, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, a clerk was penning the instrument of Colonel By’s demise. He was writing down a minute [official memorandum] resulting from a meeting that morning of the Lord Commissioners of the British Treasury. He was just at the point of writing “they [Lords of Treasury] cannot delay expressing their opinion to the Master General and Board of Ordnance on the conduct of Colonel By in carrying out this Work [the Rideau Canal].”

He died without having his name cleared or having the governments on wither side of the Atlantic acknowledge his achievements.

Canada and Canadians, however, now honour him as being the creator of one of Canada’s most significant and historic achievements.

Believed to a silouette of Lt. Col. By

Believed to a silhouette of Lt. Col. By

Nicholson's Locks, on the Rideau Canal

Nicholson's Locks, on the Rideau Canal


Nicholson's Lock, Rideau Canal.

Nicholson's Lock, Rideau Canal.

Long Island Locks and Dam, Rideau Canal, Manotick

Long Island Locks and Dam, Rideau Canal, Manotick

The Lockmater's HOuse, lower lock, Hog's Back, Ottawa

The Lockmaster's House, lower lock, Hog's Back, Ottawa

And a few of the locks at the Galop Canal, which is on the St. Lawrence Seaway. Now made redundant by the Seaway.

Disused Locks, Galop Canal, St. Lawrence River

Disused Locks, Galop Canal, St. Lawrence River

Lock Icicles, Galop Canal

"Lockcicles", Galop Canal (thanks, Az!)

If I can find the one of the lock gate, half submerged downstream, I will add it.


  1. June 14, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    What a wonderfully interesting history lesson and a great take on the theme! Love the lock-sicles at the end. I think the more to read the merrier, but you can probably tell that if you ever visit my website. My mother says I’m “windy”.

    Here’s my post:

  2. June 14, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Great pics I thought of those kinds of locks, but don’t live near one or have any photos of them. I went a different way with the theme this week. Swing on by and visit

  3. azahar said,

    June 14, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Impressive, as always.

    I really like the locksicles. 🙂

  4. June 14, 2009 at 7:21 am

    You’ve got VERY IMPORTANT locks! Excellent and unique post.

  5. jumbo said,

    June 14, 2009 at 3:18 am

    Nice write up! I like the place!

  6. magiceye said,

    June 13, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    this is so interesting!

    Have started a new meme Pet Pride where you can display your or your friends’ pets every week beginning every Sunday! Do join in and share your pet pride with the world!

  7. Mariposa said,

    June 13, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Great job here! Very informative…and a nice take on the theme…

    Mariposa’s PhotoHunt

  8. yami said,

    June 13, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    by the way, i’m sharing mine:

  9. yami said,

    June 13, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    One great job! You made your research well. this is informative. A piece of history.

  10. JC said,

    June 13, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Great post! I don’t think I knew Canada and US weren’t always friends… glad that has changed for the good 🙂

    • mudhooks said,

      June 14, 2009 at 1:29 am

      I think we were even less friends when we tried to burn the White House down in 1814. It was actually painted white after the burning (all but the scorched sandstone superstructure remained standing) to cover the blackened areas…. which led to its being called The White House. Prior to the burning, it was called The President’s Mansion.

  11. RJ Flamingo said,

    June 13, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    I was waiting to see canal locks, and yours are the first I’ve seen! Just wonderful shots, Anneke!

    I had thought of “lox”, but I was out and never got to the store! 🙂

  12. Cindy O said,

    June 13, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Aloha Anneke,
    Very nice…and unique series of locks!
    Thank you for stopping by mines:)

    Cindy O

  13. leslie said,

    June 13, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Really good post and photos for this week! 🙂

  14. VioletSky said,

    June 13, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    That was worth wading through – I like the history lesson. I’ve always had a romantic notion of travelling along the canal on a houseboat.

    • mudhooks said,

      June 13, 2009 at 4:40 pm

      You can do that on the Rideau Canal! You can ever rent a houseboat or catamaran and travel the Canal!

  15. June 13, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Loved the history lesson. You and I used the same kind of “lock” today.

  16. June 13, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Great photos and an excellent post. Thanks for sharing. Have ahappy weekend!

  17. June 13, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I’m really enjoying all the different kinds of locks I’m seeing for this particular subject. Canal locks are always interesting and cool to me.

  18. aliceaudrey said,

    June 13, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    John Lock is a fresh take on the theme.

  19. ann said,

    June 13, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Enjoyed the locks photos and the story of the canal… Good Post!

  20. NitWit1 said,

    June 13, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Loved the photos and history lesson. we have some river locks on the Arkansas River which is not near enough for me to grab a photo. It is part of a waterway from the Mississippi in to Oklahoma.

    My post:

  21. June 13, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Very, very interesting and these are the first LOCKS of this kind I’ve seen today. So many different kinds 🙂

    • mudhooks said,

      June 13, 2009 at 11:21 am

      I was wondering if anyone did a twist on the word and did “Lox”?

      We shall see!

  22. srp said,

    June 13, 2009 at 11:03 am

    I love those icicles… This is a great post, in pictures and in the history. Lovely job. Mine is up here.

    • mudhooks said,

      June 13, 2009 at 11:09 am

      Thanks! Just checked yours… Great photos. I will read thru yours in a second! Well, not in a second… Like mine (well hopefully mine does, as well…), you have some great stuff to read thru!

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