In Ontario, the first Monday of August is a holiday. Each municipality calls it after some historically significant person to that area.
After the war of 1812, the British military felt there was a need to be able to move goods from Kingston, ON to Montreal, QC without risking the loss of goods to the Americans. They called Lt. Col. John By out of retirement to oversee the construction of a canal, from Kingston to the Ottawa River.
The Rideau Canal is an engineering triumph of its time. It was completed in 1832. The canal is 202 km long, much of it dug by hand, It is the best preserved canal of its type in North America. It is still in use, after 190 years, and the equipment is largely unchanged. It was named a National Historic Site in 1925, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.
Many years ago, as a newly graduated Engineer, I was hired by Parks Canada as a Canals Engineer. I wasn't there for long, but I became very familiar with the canal. It is still a very special place for me and I try to visit a lock station or two, every summer.
We took my grandson, on Friday, to Hartwells Lock Station. This is a hidden gem in the city. Over the years, the city has grown up around it, but the lock station remains much as it was in the 1800's.
The boats are lifted or lowered 6.5 metres in these two locks. Each lock is 41 metres by 10 metres. In this picture the men are standing at the top of the upper lock, looking downstream. It looks like we are in the middle of the countryside.
This is Carleton University, which is just on the other side of the lock basin. There are walking and bikeways along this part of the canal.
If you click on this picture to make it bigger, you can see a couple of cyclists lifting their bikes up to walk them across the top of the lock gate. You can also see the waste weir on the right side, that carries excess water to the river under the pathways and the road. We did get to see 4 boats lock through, while we were there. The lock gates are still operated by hand, with 4 Parks Canada staff cranking the gates open and shut.
Today, in Ottawa, we celebrate Col. By Day. Without the canal, Ottawa would not have been made the capital city of Canada. The presence of the canal made the city a safe place from possible invasion. Of course, the railway replaced boats as the means of transportation to Ottawa. The canal is now a recreational waterway (and the home of the world's largest outdoor skating rink).
P.S. When I worked in Canals Engineering, I didn't get the day off, because I worked in Gatineau, across the Ottawa River, in Quebec. It isn't a holiday in Quebec.