I’ve fallen behind in posting, trying to get to the end of the research for my upcoming book, The Invisible Army. Anyway, here goes.
1. John Baird, Minister of transport, Infrastructure and Communities will be announcing “Economic Action Plan” funding for “Tourism Infrastructure And Heritage Preservation in Eastern Ontario”. This takes place at Laurier House, 335 Laurier Avenue East in Ottawa.
I plan to be there to push for funding for the Friends of the Rideau’s efforts to get a paid position for someone to oversee and manage our information distribution and visitor contact centre in Merrickville at the Depot. We’ve been doing this on a volunteer basis for years but the volunteers are “wearing out”.
We produce and distribute a ton of stuff on heritage, environment, culture, community events, places to see and stay, etc., and just plain talking to visitors – we think this is important. Let’s see if Minister Baird is willing to back a proven, time-tested approach or will be seduced by some heavily-marketed proposal with no track record. More to come.
2. As an example of the above, the Friends ( mostly Ken Watson and a sprinkling of volunteers), continues to make available to the general public some important documents on Rideau history that were produced by Parks Canada for their own use. Examples are;
Forbes Bush’s “Builders of the Rideau Canal, 1826-32″ which has been OCr’d, proofed, and reviewed and will eventually be available as a PDF on CD.
Robert Passfield’s report on “Historic Bridges” should be available on CD for our Annual General Meeting in Merrickville.
Larry Turner’s book, “Recreational Boating on the Rideau Canal” is in the process of completion by one of our volunteers, Helen Parson.
Larry Turner’s works on the Tay Canal are in the process . We want to get them available for the 175th this summer.
Judith Tulloch’s “The Rideau Canal 1837 – 1914 is now on CD.
Ken also has volunteers working on “Industries and Industrialists of Merrickville” and “Commercial Navigation on the Rideau Canal”. They will be available in the fullness of time.
3. A 52 page report, entitled “As Was Said Forum” on the Rideau Canal Landscape Strategy Forum of April 2 has been published. There is a lot of good insight and food for thought in it.
I say that and I’m a great skeptic of such fora, having taken part in so many over the years – more than I want to remember or count. If there’s any interest in getting copies, call the Parks Canada office in Smiths Falls at 613-283 -7199.
4. A “Watch Your Wake – Rideau Canal Boating Safety Campaign” , meeting was held March 31st with reps from the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons, Ontario Marine Operators Association, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, Ottawa Police Service, Rideau Roundtable, Parks Canada, and, last but not least, Friends of the Rideau and the Rideau Heritage Network.
A Communications Plan of print and radio ads has been started. An Information package has been included in mailings to boaters when they ask for lockage and mooring permits. Gillian Organ of Long Island is vigourously pushing this with her fellow marina operators and her clients.
Four other elements are also being reviewed and prepared: Education, Signage, Enforcement, and Research. They are linked together to see, for example, the impact of the communication, signage and education elements on enforcement. Research will be done on the impacts of wash and wake on shorelines and wildlife habitats ( especially loon nests and sites). The research will also look at erosion damage and identify sensitive areas along the Rideau.
Finally, various sections of the Rideau will be looked at to assess the need for additional speed zones.
An ambitious agenda, but necessary and timely.
5. The Annual Spring Meeting of the Friends of the Rideau will be held Saturday, May 9th, 9:30 to noon, at the Legion Hall in Merrickville. The business portion WILL BE BRIEF. This will give Heather Thomson, Heritage Planner for Parks Canada, lots of time to talk about the Rideau Corridor Landscape Strategy and to answer questions.
Our post-meeting walking tour last year was a great success. Another tour is being set up, even as we speak (so to speak).
See you there.
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