Why you should go on a cruise in Canada this autumn

Boating the Rideau Canal

Autumn can often be a difficult season for a boater. Your main summer boating excursion has been and gone, and the distraction of Christmas still feels oh so far away. You feel yourself at a loss of what to do – stuck in the daily grind. However, have you ever considered an autumn boating escape?

After all, the crowds are gone, the kids are all back at school and with it being out of peak-season there is always the prospect of grabbing a bargain.


But where to go?

The usual logic suggests heading south to soak up the last of that fast disappearing sun – postponing autumn’s inevitable grasp for that little bit longer. But why flee from a season which oozes with charisma and its own unique charms?

Instead of trying to escape autumn we should embrace it.

The nights have yet to truly draw in. The days are warm but never too hot. And best of all, the trees have begun to turn from a sea of green to riotous cacophony of red, orange, purple and yellow.

This is what makes autumn special. 

While spring colours are delicate and refined, summer colours are sun washed, and winter colour are…well…grey - Autumn colours are bold, powerful and striking. Mother Nature throws caution to the wind and produces one last gaudy display before winter arrives. And, nowhere else on earth is this annual transformation of colours more spectacular than in Ontario, Canada - the perfect destination with which to make the most of autumn.

In our opinion, the best place to see the autumn colours in Ontario is along the Rideau Canal. Let yourself cruise effortlessly on a chain of beautiful lakes, rivers and canals that wind 202kms from the cities of Ottawa to Kingston.

The waterways in this region have always been the traditional way people navigated. You will be following in the footsteps (or should it be wake?) of both indigenous people and early European settlers for whom the waterways of Ontario acted as arteries. They were the means by which goods were moved and relationships with distant people maintained.

As these pioneers moved each year they too would have witnessed the banks of the waterways change into their autumn glory – a vibrant early warning that winter was coming and the rivers and lakes were soon to freeze. The incredible aspect of Ontario is that the views you witness today remain largely similar to what those brave early travellers would’ve seen all those year ago. Little development has taken place near the banks of the water, allowing nature to take centre stage, all accentuated by the warm autumn sunshine. 


 Cruising on a Le Boat premier Horizon 2 luxury houseboat cruiser

Where to go on the Rideau Canal?

The entire Rideau Canal is lined with vibrant cities, quaint towns and breath-taking nature - with plenty to see and do along the way. To see the best of the autumn colours we recommend you keep to the waterway South of Smiths Falls, which is characterised by spectacular lakes and charming small towns. Here are our top tips of places to visit on the South Rideau during autumn:


A charming village with a warm welcome, Westport is packed with quaint shops to explore. To get the best view of the autumn colours we suggest you take a hike up to ‘Spy Rock’ in the Foley Mountain Conservation Area and revel in one of the finest panoramas the Rideau has to offer. // Newboro // Set in idyllic landscape and with a lake teaming with the regions famous Largemouth Bass, if you are a keen angler, this is a prime spot to while away the day rod in hand basking in an autumnal display.

Chaffey’s Lockstation

Chaffey’s Lockstation is the home to the Opinicon holiday resort. A charming location where old world charm meets modern luxury – all set in idyllic woodland. The Cataraqui hiking trail also runs through this lockstation, offering you the chance to feel the crunch of freshly fallen leaves as you walk through pristine nature.

Jones Falls

Set in tranquil parkland with a collection of quirky buildings, as well as impressive locks and dams to explore - Jones Falls is one of the hidden gems of the Rideau. Take a stroll and marvel at the dam that was the largest in North America when completed in 1832. Or, head to the Rock Dunder Hiking Trails six kilometres to the South and marvel at the impressive autumn vistas.

Seeley’s Bay

Originally founded as a trading post in the 1800s, Seeley’s Bay is another fishing hotspot from with which to enjoy the annual autumn spectacle. This lovely town is set on a picturesque lake and is also the home of the largest bass ever caught in Ontario! Lower Brewer’s Lockstation

This lockstation is home to one of the last beautiful unequal arm swing bridges on the Rideau. An impressive construction so well balanced a single person can swing the entire bridge to allow boats to pass along the canal simply by pushing it! Set in picture-postcard parkland with a nearby farm store and artist studio to explore, Lower Brewer’s is a tranquil setting in which to make the most of autumn.


When to see autumn colours on the Rideau

This may seem like a bit of a silly question as surely the best time to see autumn colours is...well autumn. However, it can often be a bit trickier than that. In Ontario in early September the leaves have often yet to reach their bold best, and by November all you’ll see is a pile of nicely coloured leaf mulch.

Therefore, to see Ontario in all its technicolour glory we recommend travelling there in late September and early October. For those making a last minute excursion, you can also check Ontario Parks’ ‘leaf tracker’ that charts the changing colour of the leaves every autumn!

If you would like to plan your own autumn cruise, why not check out our Canada cruises