First Canal festival day ends with a bang

Geoff Ives

Geoff Ives

Friday night’s fireworks reflected in Dow’s Lake

For the second annual Rideau Canal Festival the first day of August opened with a spectacularly sunny day and finished with a bang.

Crowds lined the canal and lake for the Dow’s fireworks show, having come using all sorts of transportation – cars, bikes, roller blades and boats. They were not disappointed by the red, green, blue, purple and yellow display that lit up the sky above and the water below.

After the show reached its grand finale the crowd cheered and honked their car horns in appreciation.

Earlier in the day festival goers were making noise of a different sort in the Musical Breeze Bicycle Parade. As its name suggests, the parade was more than a simple bike ride.

“It’s a sound parade also,” said festival CEO Michel Gauthier, “it’s a different way of exploring the canal.”

The riders were treated to bands en route and were asked to join in the music-making by following instructions such as “sing in a high pitch” at different intervals as they approached downtown.

Visitors may have been surprised encounter couples in decidedly unusual dress. There are five couples roaming the canal as “builder couples,” representing the five groups who helped complete the canal in 1832: the English, Irish, Scottish, Natives and French.

First thing in the morning meant bike tours up and down the canal, where participants were greeted by colourful “zero footprint” signs made by local children.

Geoff Ives

Geoff Ives

A zero footprint sign, one of many found along the Rideau Canal

The zero footprint theme is an important part of the festival, said Gauthier. Besides trying to run environmentally friendly events and buying carbon offsets where necessary, festival organizers are asking the public to bike, take the bus or carpool to festival events.

Sunday and Monday bring more tours of the canal and information on its history, as well as a Flotilla at Dow’s Lake aimed at celebrating the canal’s heritage. On Monday Canada’s traditional method of transportation will be celebrated: the canoe.

Organizers say they hope to pack Dow’s Lake with as many of the boats as possible.

Meanwhile, the Confederation Park site of the festival will be closed all day Sunday due to wet ground conditions. All other sites are open. Confederation Park should reopen on Monday under sunny skies. Sunday’s Rideau Canal Flotilla is still scheduled for 1 p.m. from Dows Lake to the NAC.

Monday’s schedule (Colonel By Day)

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Explore the Docks  – Dows Lake Pavilion

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Great Canoe Rendezvous – Dows Lake Pavilion

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Ecosphere Environmental Fair and Green Speakers Series – More than 70 exhibitors and 25 featured speakers. – Energy Ottawa Green Rendezvous/Confederation Park

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Rideau Heritage Village – Energy Ottawa Green Rendezvous/Confederation Park

11 a.m. – Colonel By Day Proclamation Ceremony – Bytown Museum (The Bytown Museum will be open for free as part of the Colonel By Day celebrations)

11 a.m. (French) and 2 p.m. (English) – Heritage Walking Tour – University of Ottawa Metre Lounge

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Colonel By Day Celebrations – Bytown Museum
Activities include: Heritage demonstrations • Costumed characters • Musketry
Demonstrations • Lace making • Ingleneuk Country Scottish Dancing • Aboriginal drumming and music by Northern Voices • Blacksmithing • Face painting • and much more!

11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – Enbridge Buy Local BBQ Challenge
With chefs Susan Jessup and Roger Weldon – Energy Ottawa Green Rendezvous/Confederation Park