When Lt. Col. John By, Chief Engineer of the Rideau Canal, first arrived in Canada in 1826, the Ottawa area looked very different from the bustling capital city region of today. Aside from a few small farming and logging operations, there was still much land to be settled – and doing so meant dealing with the many thick forests, fast-moving rivers, and cedar swamps that still covered much of the area. Tasked with the responsibility of constructing a canal waterway over 200 km in length to link the town of Kingston, Ontario, to the Ottawa River, By first needed a survey of the potential route and existing landscape to determine what his options were. Guided by three maps of the area created in 1783, 1816, and 1824, he and his team began the difficult task of establishing a route that could capitalize on the area’s natural watersheds and basins, all the while preserving his vision for a northern entrance of great beauty and grandeur.

The Canadian Wilderness»