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Life on the Canal

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“Rain pours down like dense curtains as the boat approaches fortresses built out of limestone. As if the sight of the awesome 20 foot ramparts are not enough, the solid timber gates start to creak open. A waterfall is thus released upon the travellers, sending shock waves around their boat like a whale about to devour her lunch. Men in dark hooded gowns worked around the winches, turning rusty gears and pulling ancient chains. Their unforgiving sounds almost muffled by the continuous thunder in the distance, bringing souls closer to their inescapable fate. This is it. The watery gateway to the Capital City of the north, where countless adventures and untold misfortunes await those who dare to wander. ‘Only the brave may enter.’ a foreboding voice whispers and echoes inside the locks, dampening the spirits of the crew who dare not raise their tiresome eyes to their ominous captain. ”

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The above is not a passage from Game of Thrones, but an except from my diary when we travelled up and down the Rideau Canal on a houseboat. The experience is unforgettable; the scenery is second to none; the water is divine. It is the only way to enjoy these natural wonders and manmade masterpieces.

I went with my family, my sister’s family, my mom and a good friend. It was the first time for all of us to be on a boat of this size for this long. I of course went into my nerdy mode and started to call out words like bow, stern, starboard, port, cleats, bowline and my all time favourite: poop deck.

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Favourite lock: Jones Falls Lock. For her natural beauty and human ingenuity. For her richness in history and traditions.

Favourite Swimming hole: Up stream from Jones Falls. The water is warm, the fish are many, the osprey is cool, the surrounding is peaceful, the sunset is surreal.

Favourite town: Newboro. For the ice cream shop with swinging chairs. For the curious shop that has unicorn platform shoes. For the fishing lodge that has big mouth bass in the candle holders.

Favourite fishing grounds: Westboro lake. For the fish who gave up their lives so I can have the thrill of trolling on a big boat and feed my family. For the bluejays who dances around us in the narrow channels. For the loons who sings constantly in their haunting tunes.

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Favourite bike ride: Rideau Ferry. For the morning surprise when I met my sister on the road. We have not ridden together since we were kids.

Favourite meal on board: The one where mom ate my fish and almost licked the plate clean. I am so proud that I can feed her with the fruits of my labour. The fish strengthens her body and soul and also lifted her spirit.

Life on the canal is constantly changing. Beauty is around us and so are the dangers. We go through the different tests of our strength, intelligence and most importantly, our perseverance. When we stay the course as a unit we eventually arrive at our promised harbour and our destination. In the end we all have to say goodbye. It is the memories that we will carry to the next voyage. The experiences become part of us and we carry on the legend of our existence.

Be well my dear friends. May the wind always be at your back, and may the rain only fall between your sandy toes.

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