Parliament Hill was the best sight to see. It closes for 10 years of renovations in 2018.


Our parking spot a few hundred feet from the top of the stair step locks. Parliament Hill in the background.

We’re downtown in Ottawa on the shopping/commercial side of the canal. The Government side is 5 minutes away across the bridge at the top of the stair step locks. We spent the rest of our first day at the Byward Market area which has fresh food markets, restaurants and various tourist shops. It’s the largest market in Canada.


The museum building is modern and the most impressive thing. It did have some good paintings. A worthwhile visit.


Going into the museum Troy saw Notre Dame cathedral across the street and suggested we go there next.


This best thing was probably this chipmunk from the museum shop.

Ottawa is not as big as Montreal, but it does win with government buildings and museums. We spent most of a day touring Parliament Hill and another day at the National Gallery of Art and the large cathedral across the street. Nathan, Troy and Nancy went to Cirque du Soleil across the river in Gatineau. Sue and I had a bit of down time on the boat when we fielded calls about the ongoing cleaning up of the mess in India.


The chamber for the house, the larger elected part of Parliament.


From the tower above the bells but below the clock. Library roof to left. National Gallery upper right. Notre Dame far right.


The only part saved from the 1916 fire, the library is easily the most spectacular part of the complex.

We ate in a couple of fancy restaurants that turned out just OK. One of our best meals might have been the Sunday brunch at the Westin across the street from the canal. Second best might have been in the Chinese stall (twice) at the food court of Rideau center. This is a large upscale shopping center (complete with Apple store) and is connected to the Westin.


Entering the Rideau Canal


Approaching the blue line to the right of the gates. The sun is shining at us.


This waterfall at the first gate appears in the upper picture but is hard to see.

We got to the blue line a little early and waited with one other boat. At the 9 AM opening time most of the 9 lock gates above us were waterfalls, and we would not be locking up until they dumped all that water. Troy and I climbed up along a few locks and took some pictures from there. The sun was coming down the locks against us, so forward photos are not too good.


Waiting on the blue line. With water falling over the 1st gate there is plenty of time to hike around the locks.

By 9:30 they drained the first lock and opened the gate. They take large boats first, and that’s what we are in this part of the country. The other boat could fit behind us if they tied to the opposite wall.


Canadian locks and associated parks are a big tourist attraction, and not just for us.


Looking back from the 3rd lock up.

It’s long haul going through 8 locks, one after the other. It was easier with Nancy. Nathan handled the back and Nancy front with Sue dealing with Troy. I was only needed for the short time we moved from one lock to the next. I could get used to this.


The last gate. Spectators above on the bridge. Blue line for oncoming boats is to left in the tunnel.


Taken later. Boats in the high chamber ready to lock down. Near middle boat still positioning to raft to its left.

No one kept track of the time, but I think it was around 11 when the last gate opened. We went maybe 1400 feet into the canal and tied up on the northeast side where there appeared to be power. There was power and we are downtown in Ottawa on the side of the Bywater Market and the famous Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel. According to Google Maps it’s an 8 minute walk to the Centennial Flame at Parliament Hill. Looks like a good spot.


Today was great weather and smooth water most all the way.


We could not see two boats away in the marina when we got up. Here it lifted enough for us to leave.

We ran the final 40 miles to Hull Marina in Gatineau QC, just across the Ottawa River from Ottawa ON. The famous 8 “stairstep” locks that start the north end of the Rideau Canal are just across the river from us. After stopping nearly 2 hours to fuel up via a really slow pump we still got here before 2 PM.


Two ferries cross opposite directions. Three more wait to the right. Must be a busy area.


Nicest home we saw on the river today.


Only small towns, a few houses and farms on the Ottawa River today and yesterday.

Our Marina was a 10 minute walk from the Musee Canadien di l’Historie (hey we don’t leave French Quebec until tomorrow). This museum also contains the (Canadian National?) Children’s Museum, so Troy, Nathan, Sue and I were quickly off to see what we could. Troy liked what he saw, especially operating the large freight loading crane and moving “cargo” from the ship to the dock. The museum building is large, modern and impressive. It could use more exhibits. It certainly has room for them. Sue and I saw much of the early, colonial and modern sections of the museum. We did miss one of the four major sections. It was devoted entirely to hockey, the national sport, so there remains a large gap in our understanding of Canadian history.


Nine lion dogs a gift from Shanghai for MosaiCanada150. The dragons (not in pic) were from Beijing.


Horses emerging from the flower bed.

After heavy rain this morning, we had a respite and went to MosaiCanada150 exhibit in Jacques Cartier Park, which is just ashore from our marina. The park is filled with topiary exhibits in honor of 150 years of Canadian independence.


The gate for the first of 8 successive “stair step” locks is a bit left of center. Parliament to right, Chateau to left.

We did get Nancy at the airport after an hour delay. We had dinner in Ottawa across the river and will get up tomorrow to start on the Rideau Canal.




Carillon dam, power station and lock. The lock is open to the right with a boat between us and it.

We were parked just below the St Ann De Bellevue lock which opens at 9 every day, so we cranked the engines a bit before that time and moved in front of the gate. It opened and we went in with smaller boats in front and behind. This was the first lock containing a floating dock that we tied up to. It’s the easiest way to go since we just tie up in the normal way we always do and then float, up in this case, with the dock. It’s even easier since there are plenty of Parks Canada employees in the green shirts on the dock to take your lines and tie up. The dock does take up room so I can see why they don’t usually have them in locks.


Several boats already in the lock. Two more fast power boats going in, then us last.


Boats tie to the dock on the right, then others raft to them. We used the cables (vertical gray lines) on the left.

Twenty five miles later we hit the larger and deeper Carillon lock, also with a floating dock. Six boats went in before us, some tying to the floating dock and others rafting to them. They asked us in but misjudged the floating dock space so we went against the lock wall on the other side which allowed us to poke our nose further forward.


One of the farms along the way.


A small town along the way. Like in Europe they’re easy to spot because they always have a church.

We came to Montebello Municipal Marina after another 25 miles. Montebello was the only place to stop along the lower Ottawa river that we had heard about, so it was the obvious place to stop. We probably chose the worst of the 2 marinas. The other was the Chateau Montebello Marina which was crowded but certainly more upscale. The chateau is a large 5 star log hotel with extensive grounds. A nice place to hang out but takes a bit of walking out the long entrance road to the town. We normally like to dock right down town when possible and our marina was closer.


Church and parish house in Montebello.

There was really not too much to the town, but we did enjoy going through it. We also spent an evening at the hotel and had dinner there. There were several functions going on because people we saw were dressed really well. Not he awkward formals and suits like we see when the high school prom kids come down to the water for photos, but like scenes of the rich and beautiful people at high class hotels and parties in the movies. They had several upscale restaurants but we felt comfortable at the Bistro downstairs.


An entrance to Chateau Montebello.


The main room is an octagon with the fireplace (at right) in its center.

The wind was never worse than 11 mph off the water at our marina, but that was enough to kick up waves to rock our dock and the other boats around us big time. Waves splashed clear over the dock. We’re heavy enough to be the only relatively still object in sight, so we’re not feeling the motion much. When we came they were careful to center us on our T dock opposite the main dock in to shore. Our part did rock and roll less than the rest of our long dock. We will be careful to completely untie our boat before we take off tomorrow. If we don’t we’re sure to rip out the entire T dock and take it with us.


St Anne de Bellevue


Troy and Nathan are back on the boat. Just in time to go through about 50 locks.


Speaking of Locks, here we approach the dread St Lambert Lock. Over its near bridge goes not the last train we’ll see today.

Before we could start up the Ottawa River we had to retrace about 35 miles of the St Laurence Seaway back through the St Lambert and St Catherine locks. We left Montreal at 7 AM, with the current this time, and steamed 5 miles to the St Lambert Lock. We made it there by 7:30 with no one else around, the gates on our end open but with a red light. This time we followed their standard protocol. We tied up to the waiting dock and called the lock on the special phone (they don’t answer to radio or normal phone calls). They said there were no big boats around (as well as no small ones we saw) but they would put us through at their standard time of 9 AM. Wish we’d known that before starting out so early.


A small town and its church on the south side of Montreal Island as we approach the west end.


We docked facing the St Ann de Bellevue lock gate. A small lock with a few feet of level change.

There was an additional delay due to several trains on the near lift bridge, then we went through the lock alone. Eight miles later at the St Catherine lock the gate was again open but we pulled up to the waiting dock at the side. Just as we slowed to tie up the light turned green so we again went through alone.


Restaurants and shops on both sides of Rue Sainte-Anne. Those to the left back up to the canal.


A number of restaurants have tables out back along the canal. This one we went to both nights.

We continued for 2 ½ hours to reach the St Anne De Bellevue west lock wall. St Anne De Bellevue is a neighborhood of Montreal at the west end of Montreal Island. The street closest to the water had “cute” shops and restaurants on both sides with those on the water side having outside dining and decks overlooking the lock wall walkway. It is a “must” stop for boats going this way with plenty of boats present Thursday and Friday. All of these were smaller so probably they used the Lachine canal through Montreal Island. They bypassed both the locks we went through today. Maybe that’s why we were locking alone.

We had a couple of nice meals after finding a restaurant we will probably revisit if we come this way again. We’re staying 2 nights because of a very rainy 2nd day today which would be unpleasant with the two locks we’ll hit early tomorrow.




Burial at Sea of a Marine Officer…  We spent some time with this at the Montreal Art Museum.

Star Gazer stayed 3 weeks in Montreal. During that time Nathan and Troy arrived to travel the rest of this season (until early October) with us and we all took a 5 day side trip to North Idaho to visit our company and relatives there.


Three different boats like this passed within feet of us about 10 times per day going out to the rapids.

The weather continued pleasant, not too hot at all with a good amount of sun. We did manage to see more of Montreal. Mary Queen of the World church was especially interesting. Pastor Bell from our Presbyterian church in Sarasota told us of a great church in Montreal. Normally we find churches with Google Maps, but Church of St Andrew and St Paul could not be found because it did not have the word “Presbyterian” in its name.


Our type of boat is not seen much here. Most all are smaller local boats.

I noticed there were no sailboats at all in Yacht Club Montreal as well as in the other marina we spent one night in. They simply can’t fight that current. I certainly would not want to fight any more than that. We also saw no looper boats or any others that appeared to be further ranging boats such as ours although some of them must come through here sometime. Overall it’s a very different mix of boats in Montreal.


Mary Queen of the World is modeled after St Peters in Rome, but scaled down more than 8X in area.


It is a big church, but not big like St Peters.


Crowded in by surrounding buildings, Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes Chapel was worth a stop.

These other boats must not talk about their travels on the internet or buy any cruising guides, because I could find no cruising guides for the Ottawa River or the Rideau canal, which does have looper boats. There is internet information on the Rideau, but none I could find on the lower Ottawa River, between Montreal and Ottawa except for an account of two guys traversing that on jet skis. This is a problem since the charts show 3 possible ways to get from the St Lawrence Seaway to the Ottawa River. A few people had a preference for one of those 3, although none had ever traversed it, so that is the way we went and it turned out to be at least 20 feet all the way.


After the service at the Presbyterian church we had lunch and spent the day in the Museum next door.




Sue with friend on the walking street.

Jack and Sue here in Montreal with advice on proper manners. We spent a few weeks in the Loire Valley of France many years ago and learned that, even though they speak English, people would just stare at us if we asked them anything until we said “bonjour”. They might say “bonjour” as a prompt to us, but nothing else.


Interior of the Notre Dame basilica.

We wouldn’t mention it, but English does seem to be slowly taking over in Montreal. People speaking to a group of locals, often start with “Will anyone need me to speak French?”. Sometimes a few percent will say yes, but that is all.


We’ve tried one restaurant in Chinatown. We’ll need to try another soon.

Even so, to save them the problem of either ignoring us or dealing with our normal boorishness, we start conversations in person or on the phone with “Bonjour, do you speak English?”, to which they graciously answer “of course!” There are some variations that mean good afternoon and good evening, but “bonjour” seems to cover the bases pretty well.


The organ in Notre Dame.

We’re contemplating whether to take the train over to Quebec City next week and give our interpersonal skills with French the acid test.

The weather has been great here. Mostly sunny but not too hot. Last Friday we went to an organ concert at the Notre Dame Basilica where we sat up in the loft with the organist. The organ was the first in Canada and I’m afraid it showed. The sound had bad definition; you could say “mushy”. We still enjoyed the Phantom of the Opera, a Bach fugue and Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary (our wedding music). The rest were popular and show tunes which would not do well on any pipe organ, let alone this one.


The central stairs are reserved for many that come on pilgrimage. More stairs at & in the building than in front. St Andre, who started this church, is associated with healing. Confusing inside with mix of stairs, escalators & elevators to 7th floor sanctuary.

Sunday was the weekly recital at St Joseph Oratory. The songs played were classical, but not familiar to us. The organ’s sound was very good, as should be expected from a recently built organ considered one of the 10 best in the world. While the exterior of the church is impressive, the interior was a letdown. Construction lasting from 1917 to 1967 allowed a different architect to do the interior toward the end, making it modern, common looking and a jarring contrast from the exterior.


The organ in St Joseph Oratory. No much for looks, but it works.

We went to the big mall – they claim one of the largest in North America. Probably true because its lower floor is the underground which extends to connect buildings for miles along St Catherine Street (the metro is the next level down). Most of these buildings have shops on their street and upper levels as well. There are twenty miles of underground in Montreal. I don’t know how much of this is shops. We probably saw the most intensive mile. We ate some OK chain restaurant food (chains new to us) in the underground food courts. Closer to us we do like L’Usine de Spaghetti up on the walking street. On a weekday get there by 5:30 to walk in, By 6 the line goes out into the street.


Illegal Aliens


Rained very little, mostly sunny but just warm enough. Star Gazer to right out at end of dock.

We’re at Yacht Club de Montreal in the Old Port of downtown Montreal. We came in last night to a different marina two blocks closer to the center of the old port area. That one really was downtown, with hordes walking right by our boat and others looking down into the basin where we were right by the wall next to town. Wall to wall people. Drove Sue nuts. Yesterday we moved to our current marina 2 blocks north to where we should be for the next week or so.


Taken while waiting in the Customs office. Big impressive government buildings here.

We got in so late that I forgot to call to check in with the Canadian authorities last night, but this morning the marina office had no idea who to call to check in. They said no one had ever asked to do that before. That was pretty strange. I got the phone number from the internet, called and found out that we should have checked in across the river from where we stayed at Thomson Marine. Montreal is not a check in location, so they could not process my request. The only thing we could do was to go back 80 miles through the 3 locks and two lift bridges and check in where we were supposed to.


A walking street near our marina. It extends through the entire port area and beyond.


We stopped by the Bank to pick up some Canadian cash. Sue’s in front.

We were thinking to check in in Montreal since that was the first time we landed on Canadian soil. Looking back I can see that less than a mile after leaving Thomson Marine in the US the St Lawrence turned north and its south shore was no longer US territory. I suppose they like you to land in Canada the first time where they can easily send you back across the river if they don’t want you.


Marche (Market) Bonesecours by our marina.

We learned the customs office in Montreal might grant an exception, so went to try that. After telling us we broke the law and there’s supposed to be an automatic $1000 fine they let us off the hook and checked us in. They did mention to NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!!!!


A small market by the water with an amusement climbing/ropes area behind

We plan to hang out and really see Montreal. Tomorrow (Friday) we’ll go back to the area of the Banque de Montreal, designed like the Roman Pantheon, and cross the street for the 2:30 organ concert at Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. If that church isn’t big enough we go to the concert at St Joseph’s Oratory Sunday at 3:30. That is the largest church in Canada, 27th largest in the world, and its organ is considered in the top 10 of the world.


Better Weather


View back as we left Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation, NY.

Last night I read up on the Canadian locks and bridges we met today. The basic idea was the Seaway was for commercial traffic, but private boaters would be tolerated – just barely. If there is a lot of commercial traffic waits at a bridge or lock can be 5 hours or more. They say they’ll try to get you through the same day. That’s a good thing since there’s a $5000 fine for staying overnight at the waiting docks at each end of the locks.


Morning sun reflects off the first big boat of the day.

Our experience today started pretty well. We went 50 miles to find 5 boats waiting at the first lift bridge. We waited while our number grew to 7 and the bridge went up. The next bridge and following Beauharnois flight (double) lock were within a few miles of the first bridge and worked with it, opening soon after the slowest boat in the group reached it. After 20 more miles the next lock, Cote Ste. Catherine, opened within a half hour, then it was 8 miles to the St Lambert Lock, 2 miles from Montreal.


First view of Montreal at extreme telephoto. Dome to left is St Joseph Oratory. Downtown to right.

St Lambert turned out to have lift bridges at each end over the lock gates. At our end the bridge was a double track train bridge stacked over a road bridge. At the other was another double track train bridge. The lock opened after 20 minutes to let 3 boats out but its green light never came on and it lowered its bridges and closed its gates without letting in any of the 9 waiting boats.


Waited a half hour here. Once in we went through the next bridge & double (flight) lock together.

Four trains passed over the bridge at our end. By the time that was done my AIS screen showed a large tanker coming up the river past Montreal toward the lock. Sure enough, they dumped our water and locked the big boat up while a few more trains passed. We had all waited over 2 hours when the lock opened. After dropping 32 feet we could all clear the lowered rail bridge at the other end. Good thing because trains were crossing it while we were in the lock and coming out of it. The busiest lock we’ve ever seen. Altogether we dropped 148 feet today.


Trains delayed us more than anything else. Cars travel below the trains at this end. Lift bridge in back is up for the big boat.

The last two miles to our marina went right past downtown and was against a current that reached 8 mph, which is a lot for a boat that normally goes 10. I rarely use twice as much diesel to go 12 mph instead of 10, but did today to go 4 mph instead of 2. Fortunately the marina had a wide entrance and no current at all inside.


Entrance to our marina is toward the right. 8 mph current here, but once in it’s calm. Now we are downtown in the Old Port area.

When we leave to go up the river to Ottawa we have to go through the St Lambert lock the other way. I’m not looking forward to that.


Windy on the St Lawrence


One of the lightest suspension bridges I’ve seen. US on both sides.

We start early to take advantage of the calm morning weather. When I got up today it was blowing, cold and while not raining certainly not dry. It was the kind of weather I might see when charging into the wind on the boat, not standing on the dock.

It’s only a river, not a great lake or the open Atlantic. How bad can it get? Being wise and prudent boaters, we left anyway. The wind came dead against the current kicking up those short period sharp waves again. The current pushed us to 14 mph against the wind with our throttle backed off a bit. We did pitch about some. Sue could still move about the boat, but kept it to a minimum.


We passed Bolt Castle early on. We can dock there on the way back.

We made good progress, but the two smaller boats that we passed were having quite a time of it, apparently crashing up more white water at their front than anything else. We passed the famous Bolt Castle early on, but had no desire to visit the island in that weather. Hopefully we can see it on the way back.

Things quieted down after 60 miles as we neared the Iroquois Lock. We got there just as it was releasing a load of boats that had locked up, and so were able to go right in with 3 other boats. We dropped only 10 inches and were out before we knew it. We were counting on getting through at least one lock and if that took long enough we would stop at the Waddington town dock afterwards.


Some sailing ship meet up of not-so-tall ships is to happen somewhere in the great lakes.

We were out of the first lock before 1 PM, and made the 28 miles to the next Eisenhower lock before 3, but had to wait there more than a half hour while it cycled through a big freighter. The Eisenhower and Snell locks are 3 ½ miles apart and operate together, so once we got into the first one we went right into the 2nd on arrival. We dropped 45 feet each time and were out by 4:30.


The third of four of these ships we saw today.

We stopped shortly after at Thomson Marine. When I called and asked if they could take us overnight they seemed happy to. When we got there and tied up they were still glad to see us. Turns out they only sell diesel and gas. No restrooms, no power hookup, but no charge! So we were happy to stay there.


We leave the last of three locks, Snell, today

Eighty miles and three more locks to Montreal. We’ll have a strong current behind us but unknown delays at the locks. We’ll have to make it. I can’t find any marina that can take us between the first and last of the locks and no anchorages as well.