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Putting the Canal to Good Use


Watercolour: Lower Bytown, from the East Bank of the Deep-cut, Rideau Canal, 1845

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Lower Bytown, from the East Bank of the Deep-cut, Rideau Canal, 1845
Watercolour
Thomas Burrowes fonds
Reference Code: C 1-0-0-0-12
Archives of Ontario

While the towns at each end of the Rideau Canal – Kingston and Bytown – flourished partly as a result of improved communications in the 1840s, the canal did not bring the widespread prosperity that the canal-builders had forecast. The waterway had been designed as a military supply route and would have fulfilled that role if it had been needed. But war against the United States never came, and the canal simply became part of a transportation triangle that connected Montreal, Bytown and Kingston. The canal’s greatest success – and it was short-lived – was thus as a regional route, bringing settlers into an area where roads were lacking and allowing them to send their produce to market.