Hogs Back Lockstation – Ottawa, Ontario - Atlas Obscura

Hogs Back Lockstation

These locks on North America’s oldest canal are named after a porcine rock formation. 


Downtown Ottawa is surrounded by two rivers and split by one great big canal. The Rideau River flows into the Ottawa at Green Island, and about a mile south are the first eight locks of North America’s oldest continuously operating canal. Over 125 miles long, it connects the Ottawa River to Lake Ontario, and needs 49 locks to do it. Along the way, is a dam and a pair of locks known as Hogs Back Lockstation. 

The Rideau Canal was completed as a military waterway in 1832, but the name “Hogs Back” dates back long before there was ever even a canal. Here, where the river and canal part ways, there had been some shallow rapids flowing over ridged rocks. Merchants and traders trying to get down river would sometimes get caught up on these rocks —which stuck up like a hog’s back. The rocks were flooded over by the construction of the canal system (which also includes a dam at the river-canal split to help control the water flow), but the original name stuck.

The drop here was eventually given the official name, “Prince of Wales Falls,” but no one calls it that. It’s Hogs Back — Hogs Back Dam, Hogs Back Park, and Hogs Back Lockstation.

Follow the canal a little further north from here, and during the coldest weeks of winter there is a stretch that is maintained as the world’s largest skating rink. You can skate for five straight and smooth miles — no rapids to navigate and no hog’s back to get stuck on.

Know Before You Go

Just west of Hogs Back Park, at the mouth of Mooney's Bay

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