Every summer, Jamie Racine makes it a point to get out on Ottawa’s waterways.
“We’re so fortunate here,” he said during a paddle in his kayak on the Rideau Canal recently. “In what other metropolitan city can you take your boat out of your shed, and in (about 10, 15 minutes)” have access to a few (boat) launches?”
“Ottawa is really good for that,” agreed Nancy Copping, a product team leader at Mountain Equipment Co-op.
“There are a lot of different waterways, in some people’s backyards, almost. With the Ottawa River and the Rideau River, there are a lot of great areas for paddling.”
There are lots of ways to try the sport out, without ever leaving the city.
People who don’t own their own equipment can rent from a number of stores, including MEC. For the total newbie, MEC holds demo nights at Westboro beach from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Tuesday.
In addition to MEC, there are a number of paddling schools in the area, including Trailhead and the Paddle Shack.
As for where to launch, you can launch off any beach in the city, including Westboro Beach and Mooney’s Bay, said Copping. She does warn people to be aware of certain areas of the Ottawa River, where the currents can be dangerous.
For families and people looking for calmer waters, Dows Lake offers safe forays on the wave-free, man-made body of water.
The Dows Lake Marina and Boat Rental offers rentals of paddleboats, canoes, kayaks and double-seater kayaks through October.
The service not only provides free life jackets loans with boat rentals, the marina also has a rescue boat in case someone runs into trouble, said Kyle Foulkes, supervisor at Dows Lake Marina.
For those with two hours to spare, it takes about an hour to get from Dows Lake to downtown, Foulkes said. Paddleboats, which seat a family of four and “are impossible to tip,” are good bets for families, he said.