1000 Islands and Rideau Canal
Explore the engineered and natural waterways of the 1000 Islands and UNESCO-designated Rideau Canal through some of Ontario’s most charming communities, including the united counties of Leeds and Grenville in Southeastern Ontario.
The Rideau Canal and connecting waterways meander over 200 km between Ottawa and Lake Ontario, via the famous 1000 Islands in the St. Lawrence River.
To learn more about 1000 Islands and Rideau Canal Waterway, scroll down or visit the area’s tourism website.
Where is 1000 Islands and Rideau Canal?
Named for its two most defining geographical features, this area lies between Kingston and Cornwall in the united counties of Leeds and Grenville, bordered by the St. Lawrence River and 1000 Islands to the south and the rideau waterway in the north.
Highway 401 cuts through the area, and is the most direct route, at just over 3 hours, driving from Toronto. Ottawa is just an hour north up highway 416.
Things to do in 1000 Islands and Rideau Canal
With the Rideau Canal, the 1000 Islands in the St. Lawrence and two dozen inland lakes and rivers, adventures on the water are endless, from houseboating, sightseeing cruising and angling to paddling and even freshwater scuba diving.
A portion of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve is located within the counties, providing adventure opportunities for avid campers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Themed trails are always a great way to discover the area while enjoying what you’re most passionate about. Both private and public gardens are featured in the Leeds Grenville Garden Trail, a popular attraction for gardeners, green thumbs, birders and photographers. Explore by bike on the Cataraqui Trail, the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail or one of the many other cycling routes. History buffs will appreciate the rich heritage in the region, dating back to the United Empire Loyalists who began settling in the late 1700, and Indigenous and First Nations culture prior to that. North Grenville has mapped out several historic walking tours, including the intriguing Kreepy Kemptville Walking Tour evolved from morbid tales and local lore.
Sample creative and exquisite local food and drink flavours from the organic and kosher vodka, rye, gin and moonshine at King’s Lock Craft Distillery in Johnstown, blueberry and beet or maple infused cider from BUSL Cider in Mallorytown and the Rideau inspired brews at Westport Brewing Company. Linger over a glass of handcrafted wine paired with Italian style wood fired pizza at Scheuermann Vineyard and Winery.
From food trucks to farmers markets and casual cafes to upscale restaurants, there’s a menu to satisfy every appetite and craving. Plus local specialities like Bushgarden Farm’s organic handmade cheese, maple butter and syrup from Gunnebrooke or Golden Moment Farms and, of course, the world famous Mrs. McGarrigle’s gourmet mustards and fine foods in Merrickville are a foodies delight.
1000 Islands and Rideau Canal neighbourhoods and districts
Ten townships, a city and two towns make up the united counties of Leeds Grenville. Brockville and Gananoque are the largest communities, while other municipalities of note include:
Town of Prescott
Home to two national historic sites, the Battle of the Windmill, one of Canada’s most historically significant windmills and Fort Wellington, a key post during the War of 1812. As well, the Sandra S. Lawn Harbour and Marina is popular with boaters during the summer.
Village of Westport
A key stop along the Rideau Heritage Route, this picturesque village sits at the west end of Upper Rideau Lake. Learn all about the area at the Rideau District Museum.
Village of Merrickville-Wolford
Scenic rural landscapes, Victorian architecture and designated heritage buildings and a colourful artistic culture make this Rideau community a favourite for visitors. Visit the Merrickville Blockhouse Museum for a peak into the past.
Township of Leeds of 1000 Islands
Besides Gananoque, the community of Rockport is also located within this township, home to the legendary Rockport 1000 Islands Cruises.
Township of Rideau Lakes
This township’s headquarters is in the village of Delta, as is the Old Stone Mill, a designated National Historic Site of Canada, originally built in 1810 and operates as a museum today.
Things to know about visiting 1000 Islands and Rideau Canal
Whether you’re still in the planning stages or you’re already on your trip, you'll appreciate what the locals recommend.
Unique way to explore
One of the most unique ways to navigate the Rideau Canal is by houseboat. You can travel at your own pace and enjoy all the "cottage comforts" onboard.
Where to go for ice cream
For delectable handmade ice-cream, gelato, chocolate, brittle and toffee, follow the locals to Downtowne Ice Cream Shoppe in Merrickville.
Favourite local fair
Be a part of history at one of Canada’s oldest fairs. The Delta Fair began as an agricultural event in 1830 and has grown into a local and visitor attraction each year at the end of July, with shows, food, a Midway and loads of fun activities.
Last updated: January 5, 2023