South Wind Brigade (Rideau Canal – part of the Four Winds Brigades)

For more post event information try this wordpress-blog link!

or this recently posted Facebook video: 

A 2017 Four Winds – Ottawa Brigades video


The South Wind Brigade starts at the historic city of Kingston on Lake Ontario and proceeds north following the Rideau Canal World Heritage Site 202 km to the City of Ottawa. The final leg will leave the north end of the Ottawa Locks on the Ottawa River and follow the river upstream a short distance (less than one kilometre) to Victoria Island. The trip will be done at a leisurely pace, allowing time to stop at communities and lock stations along this scenic and historic route. The oldest functioning canal in North America, still hand-operated by its distinctive ‘crab’ winches, sheltered narrow lakes connected by short sections of canal and river, world-class scenery, vintage hotels and restaurants for those who prefer more ‘glamorous’ paddling…a perfect melding of wildness and culture.

Our vision … to fill the Rideau Canal in Ottawa will human-powered watercraft making their way through Canada’s Capital City…a Canada Day to remember!




To Obtain a Canadian Voyageur Brigade Society Membership visit this link: 2017 CVBS Participant Membership link


General Plan and Schedule

Dates:  June 23, 2017 – July 1, 2017

Location: Kingston (Ontario) to Victoria Island (Anisanaka) on the Ottawa River via the Rideau Canal. Alternate starting point is Rideau Acres Campsite (see, approximately six kilometres from Kingston just north of Highway 401.

Why: To draw the attention of Canadians to the historic role that Voyageur canoes and Canada’s rivers made in the founding of our nation. To celebrate the historical and ecological significance of rivers like the Ottawa, the Gatineau, and the Rideau that connect our communities and our ecosystems and that connect our people through time and geography. To celebrate the canoe as an icon to the values of this country:  cultural cooperation, freedom and respect for the environment. We also want to draw attention to the rivers the brigades follow like the Ottawa, the Gatineau, the Rideau in order to better protect and celebrate their importance to all of Canada, and to restore the Ottawa River to a position as the world’s cleanest, most ecologically healthy river to flow through a national capital city.

Traditionally, voyageur canoes carried cargo of furs and trade goods. But these canoes will carry a different kind of payload – ideas, hopes and dreams.  Our mission is to draw attention to the need for everyone, from citizen advocates to the highest political echelons, to breath live into the spirit of reconciliation – we want to see a Canada where all cultures can work and live together in peace, harmony and justice, and we want to highlight the need for a reconciliation with the ecosystems that support us – our waters that for centuries have been used as garbage dumps, open sewers and exploited for commercial gains without consideration for the ecosystems that supported the living communities (including people) along these waterways. We’ve come a long way recently, but we still have a long way to go.  


Big Canoes: This journey will be organized by canoe crews of 6-18 paddlers. Each crew will arrange for the use of a replica “Voyageur” canoe. These are big canoes of 22 – 36 feet and are normally paddled by 5-16 paddlers at a time. Most crews will have extra members, so that paddlers can be rotated with those on a non-paddling shift looking after the setting up of camps, the shuttling of vehicles and the preparing or acquiring of food.  Whether or not crews choose to have extra members is up to the individual crew captains.


Smaller Paddle Craft:  For the 2017 Four Winds brigades, we invite smaller human-powered craft, (canoes, kayaks, SUOPS, sit-on-tops, outriggers, rowing boats, etc., to join in for portions of the brigade. For the South Wind route, the most desirable section for small vessels to join in on will be on the last day while we paddle through the City of Ottawa and portage down to the Ottawa River (portage wheels will be a big help!), where we will join all four brigades at the final destination, Victoria Island. My personal vision is to see the Rideau Canal in Ottawa filled with human-powered craft of all kinds.

Smaller craft are also invited to join in on other portions of the route, particularly heading into Perth, Smith Falls, and Merrickville, where welcoming celebrations are being planned.

Small craft paddlers should bear in mind that big canoes can go very fast and it is often difficult to keep up unless you are in a racing craft. Also, small craft paddlers will not be considered as part of the brigade and there will be no need to register. Small vessel paddlers need to be aware that they will not be covered under brigade insurance and you are out on your own … just out for a paddle … and happen to be paddling with these Big Canoes.   The South Wind Brigade organizers will work with local paddling groups for scheduling and information sharing, but administration and liability is the responsibility of local groups or individuals.


Brigade Organizer Responsibilities: Brigade organisers are responsible for setting the schedule and itinerary, registering Big Canoe crew and paddlers, assuring the Safety Plan is followed (see safety plan), booking camp sites, organizing events with local communities, liaising with government organizations such as parks Canada, national Capital Commission, and Municipalities. Brigade organisers will also assist unattached individual paddlers to find crews to paddle with, acquire Big Canoes for crews that have no canoes, and assist small crews to find additional paddlers.

Brigade organisers will also be responsible for the ‘branding’ of the brigade (for example, hats, head bands, t-shirts, stickers, flags, etc., depending on available funds).

Brigade organisers will be responsible for media coverage, web site development and updating, (there will be a Four Winds website, in addition to the website).


Canoe Crew Captain Responsibilities: Each individual crew captain will be responsible for registering and assembling their crews, arranging transportation to and from the event and throughout the brigade, providing the canoe with safety gear to Coast Guard requirements, adhering to the Safety Plan, ensuring that each canoe has adequate paddles, life jackets, camp gear, group cooking supplies, gear and food.

Captains and crews are responsible for their individual costs – transportation, food, camping and accommodation. Note that most campsites will be at parks Canada lock stations, and will be free.


Individual Crew Member Responsibilities: Individuals who wish to participate in the South Wind Brigade have the responsibility to find a crew to join or assist in forming a crew. The Brigade leader will assist individuals to find crews. Each individual is expected to share in camp chores, submit required paperwork to crew captains (waivers and proof of membership in the Voyageur Brigade Society), pay their share of the costs as directed by their captain, and help the brigade achieve its goals.


Fees and Registration:  Travel and food during the brigade will be organized by each paddling crew and costs will vary based on crew choices. There will be opportunities to stay in hotels and eat at restaurants during the brigade and these costs are not covered by brigade organizers. Taking advantage of hotel and restaurant facilities is the choice of individual crew members and crew captains will determine any individual shared costs related to these choices. By May of 2017, once registration is complete and deposits have been received, crew captains will have a good estimate of individual costs. Final adjustments will be made after the brigade wraps up and there may be a few unanticipated costs that will have to be shared! There will be an initial deposit of $400.00 per crew at registration that will cover group camping fees, insurance and ‘swag’. Unattached paddlers are also welcome to register for free. Once these unattached paddlers have been assigned to a crew, their crew captain will spell out what shared fees they will be required to pay.

This brigade is being budgeted on an equal cost-sharing basis. Some costs, such as group campsite bookings, may be made for the entire brigade. Paddlers should expect to share equally in costs of transportation to and from the brigade, transportation during the brigade, crew food costs, which will be calculated on a per crew basis by the crew captains.  There will be a brigade fee charged for each crew member, that is still to be calculated, and that will depend upon grants that may be received (several still pending). Any profits from the brigade will go towards supporting youth paddling events in communities on the Rideau.

Expect Registration to open in mid-December. A maximum of ten crews (about 100 paddlers) will be accepted for this brigade (based on campsite availability).


Other Considerations: 

  • This is not a competitive event. Canoes are expected to travel together, following a lead canoe and forward of a sweep canoe, in groups of three-six canoes.
  • Brigade leadership will be shared among crews. Captains meetings each morning will determine lead and sweep canoes and the make-up of groups of canoes.
    • some crews may have support vehicles and non-paddling or partial-paddling members. These folks would also need to register and participate in all non-water activities.
  • Paddle Canada Big Canoe Leader Certification: All crews are encouraged to have at  least one member certified as paddle Canada Big Canoe Leader. If there is sufficient interest, we could provide a big Canoe Leader Certification course prior to the brigade at Rideau Acres campsite.
  • Crews that travel with RVs will have to book individual campsites, at their own cost, and will NOT be able to camp with the brigade at lock stations. They will have to make their own arrangements for camping at local campgrounds along the way
  • Campgrounds in the city of Ottawa:

38 Rideau Heights Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
K2E 7A6

Telephone: 613-226-4141
Fax: 613-226-5643

    • Sleepy Cedars Campground

1893 Manotick Station Road
Greely, ON
K4P 1H2
Telephone: 613-821-0756


Proposed Itinerary

June 22,23: crews gather; preferred campsite is Rideau Acres, ten minutes from Kingston. (info@rideaucares.comTel: 613-546-2711)

June 24: Day 1: Starting Point:  Kingston, Ontario.  Either at Kingston Marina or Rideau Acres (about 1 km about above Kingston Mills Locks).  The distance from Kingston to Kingston Mills is 7km.

Departure time if leaving from Kingston (in order to catch first lock) will be 07:30am. If departing from Rideau Acres departure time doesn’t really matter.

Day 1: Distance: 43 km (Depart from Kingston) or Rideau Acres:  36km.  Over-night at Jones Falls. Optional hotel accommodations (phone Hotel Kenny ahead of time to make reservations); reservations can also be made for dinner. Phone ahead (Phone: 613-359-5500 or 866-KENNEY)

Day 2: Distance: 27 km.  First lockage up at Jones Falls will be 9:00 a.m.  Overnight at Narrows Lockstation. Restaurant lunch opportunities are available in Newboro

Day 3: Distance: 28 km.  Stay at Last Dual Park in Perth ( Many restaurants in Perth are within walking distance of the park.

The Last Duel Park & Campground offers 46 serviced campsites, public boat docks and launch, public walking trails (The Wendy Laut Ribbon of Life) and picnic area with shelter. Contact Karen Fox at 613-267-3311, extension 2279.

Day 4: Distance: 23 km.  Stay at Detached Lock or Smiths Falls Park Area.  Town of Smiths Falls will be putting on event to highlight canoeing the Rideau, etc.

Smith Falls is a major centre, with a population of 10,000. Many amenities are available close to the river.

Day 5:  Distance: 23 km. Stay at Merrickville, Leave at 9:00, first lockage down.

Restaurants are available close to the river.

Motel accommodation is also available:

  • Merrickville Guest Suites

159 St. Lawrence Street

Merrickville, Ontario, K0G 1N0


  • Baldachin Inn

Box 569,
111 St. Lawrence Street,
Merrickville, Ontario, K0G 1N0
Phone: (343) 925-0229

Day 6: Distance 23 km. Stay at Rideau River Provincial Park. (

Day 7: Distance 36 km.  Stay at Black Rapids

Restaurant opportunities en-route

Day 8: Distance 15 km:  Stay at Ottawa


* For a complete list of campgrounds, see

38 Rideau Heights Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
K2E 7A6

Telephone: 613-226-4141
Fax: 613-226-5643

    • Sleepy Cedars Campground

1893 Manotick Station Road
Greely, ON
K4P 1H2
Telephone: 613-821-0756


Contact: Max Finkelstein (