87 Westport, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec

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A cooling breeze dried our sweat as we enjoyed the view of Westport stretched out below us. The view made the hot walk along the road and up the mountain worth the effort. Long minutes passed as we savored the mix of countryside giving way to town and water. Boats left the town dock heading out to explore more of the Rideau Canal and connecting lakes and we speculated if we’d cross paths with them again. Then we too headed down the mountain to become boat people again.

The back-up at the lock and dam that cuts Rideau Lake in half had not been expected. We’d forgotten all the cottage people entertained guests by taking them for a ride through the lock on a fine Sunday afternoon. After an hour of holding position we got to the blue line and tied for another hour wait for the lock to cycle. We went off to explore the lock area and check out the crowd that had gathered to watch boats get packed into the lock for its 3-foot change in levels.

Whispered and not-so-whispered comments alerted us to turn and check out a large cigarette boat entering the lock. People tried to be casual as they edged closer for a look. The two couples aboard all wore string bikinis. The guys seemed to take great pleasure getting out and walking around to show off their bare buns. The girls were more discrete, but it was quite a show.

Tired of towns and lock docks we found Sheldon Bay for our evening anchorage. Ruth had learned of it from talking with other boaters in the locks. Early the next morning we were off to Colonel By Island where we walked the trails, then decided we still weren’t ready for another dock so we moved off a hundred yards and anchored. Returning from a dinghy ride around the island, we pulled anchor and took off to find a more secluded spot.

Only a loon family kept us company in our in a small bay along a park shore. They didn’t seem to mind our being part of their home territory. We spent the afternoon watching one parent keep their baby close while the other went off looking for food. It was fascinating to watch the parent return and hand off a token to the other who then passed it to the baby.

From the enclosed catwalk we watched the Hershey candy making and packaging process at Smith Falls. We skipped buying a candy bar since there were long check out lines at the factory store. No free sample either. Smith Falls is a town of parks with lovely gardens. A fascinating museum about the Rideau Canal history and construction provided more background about the canal.

Our short interlude of lakes dwindled back to river and canal. At Clowes lock we found just enough space beyond the end of the blue line to allow a tie up and spend the afternoon and evening enjoying the quiet of this secluded lock.

Cottages filled in the river edge as we moved closer to Ottawa. Soon it seemed like continuous cottages, and we gave up the idea of one last night in the country before hitting the big city and pushed on to Ottawa.

A linear park lined the last miles of the Rideau Canal winding through Ottawa. Trees blocked all but the very top of skyscrapers in the distance. A few fine homes showed beyond the buffer of grassy parkland and flowerbeds. Mainly, however, our gaze followed the canal path and a welcoming committee of walkers, joggers, bikers, inline skaters and just people sitting on the grass and park benches. We saluted each other with friendly waves as we passed in review heading for the end of the canal. There in the heart of downtown Ottawa in sight of the Canadian Parliament Building we tied up to the canal edge.

Our season mooring pass purchased at the start of the canal allowed us to stay in the heart of Ottawa for no additional charges. However, we shared the park at night. Each evening a few street people moved in to sleep on benches or on the grass. Never a problem, we just made sure we didn’t leave anything out to tempt someone and took a few extra seconds to lock the companionway door as we left for the day.

Ottawa was just plain fun. Linda and Steve joined us for a few days. Off we went to tour the Parliament Building. Parliament was not in session so we could visit the floor of both houses. Part of the tour included a visit by “Queen Victoria” who explained from a balcony her reason for selecting Ottawa as Canada’s capitol. Parliament’s library is not to be missed. Circular, with flying buttresses on the outside, it’s a beautiful wood carving on the inside. We stood many minutes enjoying its beauty. We made a second visit to Parliament Hill. This time it was evening, and we enjoyed the light show using the Parliament Building as the screen.

Byward Market became our second favorite destination. It’s a 10-12 square block area of farmers’ market, street vendors, shops, restaurants and great people watching. Trips to the bakery for fresh bread became a routine adventure. We added beaver tails (fried dough smothered in butter and cinnamon sugar or other goodies) to our trips to explore the market.

All too soon it was time for Linda and Steve to continue their trip north to the wilderness waters of northern Canada. Steve retrieved their van from the parking lot. We transferred their sea kayak from it’s resting spot on Odyssey’s roof for safe keeping, back to the van roof. Then with reluctant good byes, they were off heading north.

On a gray drippy morning we started down the flight of 8 locks leading to the Ottawa River. Barb and John provided extra hands to make our run down the locks even easier. They had joined us for our cruise to Montreal. We caught up with each other’s lives as we traveled along the river. Just back from a trip to France, it was great fun hearing their stories about experiences working on Canada’s Atlantic Challenge boat race series for teens and young adults.

Seaplanes dotted the shore of the Ottawa River. They seemed to outnumber jet skis tied up in front of homes along the shore. We passed by a seaplane airport, a launch ramp, handling equipment and twenty or more planes tucked up on shore.

Montebello Resort boasts of having the largest log structure in the world. We stopped for lunch and the evening to enjoy seeing the building, grounds and the restoration in process on an old mansion next door.

Lock tenders at St. Lawrence Seaway were less than friendly. While commercial traffic talked with the locks on VHF, pleasure boats, even a hundred-foot yacht had to tie up at a dock and talk on a telephone. As we entered the lock, one pair of lines was dropped to Sea Turtle locking through at the same time. We were told to raft off Sea Turtle in the huge lock, evidently to save the lock tenders from having to drop a second set of lines.

Our last challenge to reaching Montreal was the 6-knot current exiting the rapids the Seaway had worked around with a canal and locks. We worked our way upstream and tied up in the marina in the heart of the Old Montreal. Off we went exploring, having a great time discovering the mix of old buildings, unique buildings, shops, and buskers of Montreal. It was Friday, and on a perfect afternoon we enjoyed the crush of people enjoying the area. Over a leisurely dinner aboard Odyssey we watched the marina fill up as a continuous line of boats entered the marina. Sadly, early the next morning Barb and John headed out on their own adventure to find the bus station for their ride back to their car in Ottawa. We settled down to explore more of Montreal.

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