The Rideau Canal Festival has been suspended indefinitely due to funding cuts from the federal government and the City of Ottawa, as well as difficulties attracting major corporate sponsors.
Festival officials estimate 500,000 people have attended the event over the years, which has been held on every August long weekend since 2008.
“It’s really disappointing. This is the only Ontario UNESCO designation,” says Caroline Risi, co-chair of the festival’s board of directors. “The fact that the celebration of a particular national icon is not going to continue based on the lack of funding available is very sad.”
Risi says the board hopes to bring the festival back in the future, but won’t be able to unless they get government or corporate sponsors interested.
“It’s a free festival. It’s non-profit. We’re not trying to raise money,” she says. “We’re trying to grow knowledge and understanding of the history of the area.”
The Rideau Canal became Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.