Do you know how much motivation it takes to get up at 6:30 am on a Saturday morning and drive about two hours to go hiking under the pouring rain? A lot. But I had good reasons to feel motivated. I have worked a lot in the last few weeks, and I have not been able to hike as many kilometres on the Rideau Trail as I would have liked (and as I promised myself to hike the entire trail this year, I had a few kilometres to catch up).
Also, I’m about to leave for Ireland in a few days, and I thought this spring hike would be perfect to see if my new coat can cope with the rainy Irish climate (conclusion: no, it can’t).
So I woke up early on a Saturday morning and drove to Murphys Point Provincial Park, which is where I stopped my hike last time. But when I arrived at the park, I ran into a closed gate. Apparently, the park is not yet open for the season. Aaargh!
I’m sure I could have ignored the park closure and still easily find my way to the Rideau Trail. But in front of the closed gate, I realized I was much less motivated I thought I was. So I decided to postpone my Rideau Trail hike to another time.
But as I didn’t want to have driven up there for nothing, I decided to stop at the Beveridges Locks not far away. The Rideau Trail offers an alternative trail in this area (the “Blue Trail”) which, although not part of the official trail, allows for more exploration along the canal and its tributaries. In this case, the trail follows the Tay Canal.
The Tay Canal connects the Tay River and the town of Perth to the Rideau Canal via the Beveridges Locks. At the time of the construction of the Rideau Canal, some businessmen from Perth lobbied the government to connect it to the Tay River. It was hoped that the project would open up Perth and stimulate the local economy.
In a period of fifty years, the Tay Canal was built twice. The first time, in 1834, was not a commercial success, and the canal quickly deteriorated and was abandoned. The second time, in 1885, it was the government that decided to choose a route from Lower Rideau Lake and authorized the contract to build the Beveridge Locks, with the same design than the Rideau Canal locks.
This second version of the Tay Canal was not a success either. The construction of the canal cost twice as much as expected and once inaugurated, the canal was little used and did not bring the expected prosperity. The project was ridiculed at the national level and the Conservative government in Ottawa had to face many criticisms.
Although not commercially successful, the Tay Canal was quickly adopted by boaters. Even today, following the canal from Lower Rideau Lake to downtown Perth is a popular summer activity.
Today, the Beveridges Locks are managed by Parks Canada, as is the entire Rideau Canal system. Parks Canada also has a campsite near one of the locks.
The hike itself is 4 km round trip and not very difficult (the trail mainly follows a dirt road). The trail starts at the Beveridges Locks and follows a quiet logging road to the Beveridge Dam on the Tay River. On the way, there is an observation platform that gives a beautiful view of the Tay marsh.
It was not exactly the Rideau Trail, but it was another great opportunity to learn a little more about the history of the region!
My journey on the Rideau Trail:
- Km 1 to Km 5 – Year goal: 150 kilometers on the Rideau Trail
- Km 5 to Km 25 – Along the Ottawa River
- Km 25 to Km 35 – In the wilderness of Stony Swamp
- Km 35 to Km 50 – On the country roads
- Km 50 to Km 80 – Marlborough Forest and its horseflies
- Km 80 to Km 100 – Hello Rideau Canal
- Km 100 to Km 125 – A fall hike in Smiths Falls
- Km 125 to Km 150 – 150 kilometres later
- Km 150 to Km 155 – I’m back, and with a new goal
- Km 155 to Km 175 – Entering the Mica Mines area