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Rideau River
The Rideau River in Ottawa flowing between Carleton University and Vincent Massey Park
Other name(s) Rivière Rideau
Country Canada
Province Ontario
Region Eastern Ontario
Physical characteristics
Main source Upper Rideau Lake
United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, Ontario, Canada
44°40′55″N 76°20′10″W / 44.682°N 76.336°W / 44.682; -76.336
River mouth Ottawa River
City of Ottawa
45°26′29″N 75°41′46″W / 45.441405°N 75.69623°W / 45.441405; -75.69623
Length 100 km (62 mi)
Basin features
Progression Ottawa RiverSaint Lawrence RiverGulf of Saint Lawrence
River system Ottawa River drainage basin
Basin size 4,000 km2 (1,500 sq mi)
Rideau River under Cummings Bridge separating Sandy Hill from Vanier in Ottawa
Carleton University south view 2
Rideau River and Rideau Canal opposite Carleton University
Falls of the Rideau River, at the Ottawa River, 1826
1826 painting of the Rideau Falls, where the Rideau River empties out into the Ottawa River, by Thomas Burrowes

The Rideau River (French: Rivière Rideau; Ojibwe: Pasapkedjinawong) is a river in Eastern Ontario, Canada. The river flows north from Upper Rideau Lake and empties into the Ottawa River at the Rideau Falls in Ottawa, Ontario. Its length is 146 kilometres (91 mi).

As explained in a writing by Samuel de Champlain in 1613, the river was given the name "Rideau" (curtain) because of the appearance of the Rideau Falls. The Anishinàbemowin name for the river is "Pasapkedjinawong", meaning "the river that passes between the rocks."

The Rideau Canal, which allows travel from Ottawa to the city of Kingston, Ontario on Lake Ontario, was formed by joining the Rideau River with the Cataraqui River. The river diverges from the Canal at Hog's Back Falls in Ottawa.

In early spring, to reduce flooding on the lower section of the river, workers from the city of Ottawa use ice blasting to clear the ice which covers the river from Billings Bridge to Rideau Falls by cutting "keys" through the ice and using explosives to break off large sheets of ice. This practice has been going on for more than 100 years.

The regulatory authority charged with protecting the Rideau River and its tributaries is the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority.



  • Adrians Creek
  • Duck Creek
  • Tay River
  • Black Creek
  • Otter Creek
  • Rosedale Creek
  • Irish Creek
  • Babers Creek
  • Atkinsons Creek
  • Rideau Creek
  • Dales Creek
  • Brassils Creek
  • Murphy Drain
  • Kemptville Creek
  • McDermott Drain
  • Cranberry Creek
  • Steven Creek
  • Mud Creek
  • Jock River
  • Black Rapids Creek
  • Nepean Creek
  • Sawmill Creek


Communities along the Rideau include:

  • Ottawa, Ontario
  • Manotick, Ontario
  • Kars, Ontario
  • North Grenville, Ontario
  • Merrickville, Ontario
  • Smiths Falls, Ontario


Samuel de Champlain, who was the first european to have seen the river, named it rideau (the french word for "curtain") due to the resemblance between Rideau Falls and a curtain.

In earlier times, the river was used as a transportation route between the Ottawa and Saint Lawrence River. The fertility of the lands along the banks of Rideau river attracted loyalist settlers looking for good farmlands, which led to growth of settlements in the surrounding regions. After the War of 1812, a waterway, designed by John By, was built through Rideau River connecting Kingston to Montreal.

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