A new book entitled Steamboats on the Rideau has just been published by the Rideau Township Historical Society and is available at local book vendors. The publication tells the story of Rideau Canal steamboats from a Manotick perspective, as it unfolds in the text and images of a special exhibit at the Dickinson House Museum in historic Dickinson Square.
The Dickinson House Museum was a logical place for the mounting of an exhibit on the steamboats that travelled the Rideau Canal for over 100 years. Built from 1826 to 1832, the canal was designed with steamboats in mind. Dickinson House was the Manotick home of well-known steamship owner Moss Kent Dickinson, who went on to build what is now Watson’s Mill.
Readers of this new companion book to the museum exhibit will learn about the role that steamboats played in the canal’s evolution from serving as a major east-west transportation route in British North America, to providing regional transport in the mid-nineteenth century, to the development of a major tourist trade where large, elegant steamers carried passengers the length of the canal in relative ease and comfort. Changes to the design of steamboats over time are also explored in the book, which is illustrated with over 50 heritage photographs and other images. The steamboat narrative comes to a close with the story of the intrepid little steamer that was the last to serve on the Rideau Canal.
Steamboats on the Rideau can be purchased at Office Pro, 5541 Manotick Main Street; in the Dickinson House Museum gift shop; at the Rideau Archives in North Gower; or online at www.rideautwphistory.org.