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Boating in Canada

Boating in Canada is one of the most popular forms of summer recreation. The long, hot summer days have Canadians and tourists alike flocking to the thousands of lakes and rivers for Canadian boating excursions. From small lakes to the Great Lakes, from fresh-water lakes to Pacific and Atlantic boating destinations there are ideal recreational boating opportunities wherever you look.

Boating is a big responsibility. Boat licenses are required by law, be sure to take your boat license exam, or you could face a fine.

History of Canadian Boating

Historically, boating in Canada has been around since the first inhabitants built birch bark canoes to navigate the myriad of lakes and rivers in the heartland. European settlers arrived and soon adopted the native crafts to aid in establishing trading routes throughout the country.

The first corporation in Canada, the Hudson's Bay Company, began shipping their products over great distances through the interior of the country. As their needs grew, they began to modify the original canoes into bigger boats. The first boat manufacturer using production-line assembly practices was established in Quebec during the 18th century.

While shipping on the Great Lakes through the Welland Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway continues to flourish, it is recreational boating that Canadians of all ages enjoy. On a sunny summer day you'll find people relaxing on the beaches in Canada while watching others jet-ski, fish, canoe, kayak, and enjoy other family activities in Canada.

Popularity of Boating in Canada

Roughly 50 % of Canadians participate in boating in Canada for recreational purposes. From canoes and kayaks, to powerboats, sailboats, and yachts there are over 2.5 million Canadian-owned boats. That is double the boats per capita than in the United States. With the long winter months finally lifting and the long awaited spring sunshine making its appearance, Canadians begin their boating preparations to take advantage of the season. Canadian boating is taken seriously along with other summer activities in Canada.

The popularity of recreational boating in Canada is due to an abundance of fresh-water lakes and rivers as well as seasonal limitations that ensure we take full advantage of the opportunity to go boating. The Atlantic and Pacific coastal waters offer opportunities for sea kayaking, cruising, and sailing in Canada.

Popular Canadian Boating Destinations

With its numerous lakes and rivers you can throw a dart at a map of Canada and locate an ideal recreational boating destination. Just don’t throw it too high as the frozen waters of the Artic do not provide optimal conditions. You can explore historical through the canals and locks...take your boat camping in Canada...or rent a cottage on a pristine lake. Whatever your preference, Canadian boating destinations offer warm summer temperatures and the opportunity to relax and recharge.

Ontario and Quebec Boating Destinations

Cruise the Rideau Canal & Waterway which was declared a Canadian Heritage River in 2000 and a World Heritage Site by the U.N. in 2007. Starting off in the nation's capital of Ottawa you can "kick off" your trip by exploring the Canadian Parliament buildings and historic landmarks of this relatively young nation. As you cruise the oldest, continuously operating canal in North America you'll pass through 45 locks that take you along the Canadian Shield wilderness to Kingston, Ontario…the first capital of Canada. From Kingston, you can venture into St. Lawrence River and the Thousand Islands.

The St. Lawrence River and the Thousand Islands provides some of the most scenic boating in Canada. With numerous protected anchorages and marinas, you'll be able to explore the island beaches, riverside villages, and the St. Lawrence National Park. From there you can set your sites on the Chaudiere-Appalaches region of Quebec along the St. Lawrence River and explore 350 year villages along the way.

Another National Historic Site of Canada is the Trent-Severn Waterway which is ideal for houseboating in Canada. This waterway links Lake Ontario with Georgian Bay in Lake Huron with 44 locks and countless lakes and rivers to enjoy. You'll travel through the Kawartha Lakes region where cottage rentals in Canada are its main industry.

The Great Lakes of Canada offer the largest fresh-water boating destinations in the world. The water flows west to east from Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, to Lake Huron, then Lake Erie, and finally through the Niagara River and over Niagara Falls draining into Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario flows into the St. Lawrence River through to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean.

Visit the sandy beaches of the Iles-de-la-Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The 12 islands of this sparsely-populated archipelago feature private lagoons, towering red cliffs, and lush, green valleys.

To bypass Niagara Falls, the Welland Canal was built to transport boaters from Port Colborne on Lake Erie to Port Dalhousie on Lake Ontario. Pleasure boats from the United States can enter the Great Lakes system via the Erie Canal at Buffalo, New York. The Great Lakes are also connected to the Gulf of Mexico via the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.

Boating Destinations in the Maritimes

The Gulf of St. Lawrence leads to the Northumberland Strait which allows for easy access to the maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia/Cape Breton, and Prince Edward Island. You'll have access to the Miramichi River in New Brunswick, world-famous for its salmon fishing in Canada. The Ritchie Park Wharf and Station Wharf are available to park your boat and explore the shops, seafood restaurants, and to pick up supplies.

Prince Edward Island sits in the middle of the Strait and offers white and red sand beaches. A full-service marina is located in Summerside to welcome you to this quaint island. Many marinas along the Nova Scotia coast are available as you cruise the Sunrise Shore and marvel at the spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

British Columbia Boating Destinations

Boating in Canada doesn't get any better than cruising Howe Sound in British Columbia. The 100 million year old Coast Mountains rising out of the Pacific Ocean is a sight to behold. The snow-capped mountains leading down into a lush ancient rainforest is stunningly beautiful. British Columbia with its mild climate offers the only year-round Canadian boating destination.

Explore the bays and coves along the shoreline of British Columbia or anchor in the protected channels of the islands. Vancouver Island, off the B.C. mainland, is a popular recreational boating destination with plenty of ports to park your boat.
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