Ottawa Locks Station repairs leaves boaters waiting in river

Martine and Daniel Charles were halfway through the lockstation to enter the Rideau Canal on Tuesday when a loud "crack" put their vacation plans to a halt.

Rideau Canal spokesperson says lockstation could reopen by 9 a.m. Thursday

Boats were lined up in the Ottawa River waiting to enter the Rideau Canal as workers repaired a broken lock. (CBC)

Martine and Daniel Charles were halfway through the lockstation to enter the Rideau Canal on Tuesday when loud cracking sounds put their vacation plans on hold.

"We were at the fourth lock. They went to close the gate and there was lots of cracking," she told CBC News in French. "One of the lockmasters ordered everyone to stop, saying it was too dangerous."
Christian Tessier, left, and Daniel and Martine Charles, right, were stuck waiting for the Ottawa Locks to be repaired overnight. (Chloe Fedio, CBC Ottawa)

The Sainte-Adèle, Que., couple was forced to back out of the locks around 12 p.m. Tuesday. On Wednesday evening, theirs was one of eight boats lined up in the Ottawa River waiting for workers to fix the lock.

Scott Tweedie, an associate director for theRideau Canal National Historic Site, said the wooden heel post, which acts as a hinge for the lock, cracked and is being reinforced with steel. He said the work is expected to be completed overnight, and that the locks should reopen by 9 a.m. Thursday.

But boaters are growing impatient, saying they were initially told the lockstation would reopen at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

"We don't want to leave because we don't want to miss it," Martine Charles said, adding that passing through the eight locks, which are nestled between the Chateau Laurier and Parliament Hill, takes a few hours.

Christian Tessier, who met up with the Charles' in his own boat on Wednesday, said he thinks the wood on the locks appears to be in poor condition and suggested it should have been fixed sooner.

In June, the federal government announced nearly $40 million for several Rideau Canal infrastructure projects, including the rehabilitation of bridges, dams and locks.

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