By Corinne Packer
Back in 2019, when travel was not rife with the risk of contracting a highly and deadly infectious virus, I enjoyed a wonderful three days touring Venice. I used the vaporettos – boat buses running up and down Venice’s stunning network of canals –to get to my destinations. I’ve wondered ever since why Ottawa has never thought to create its own Grand Canal vaporetto to allow residents and visitors to get to key areas of the city that stretch along the amazing Rideau Canal, a significant jewel in our city’s crown.
Reading the November issue of the Glebe Report, I found at least four articles that made the case for giving serious thought to the idea of a Rideau Canal vaporetto. The cover story bore the bad news of just how badly Lansdowne is struggling financially. On page 6, we read that a greater vision is needed for Aberdeen Square. On page 13, Pat Goyeche reminded us of the wealth of programs seniors can access at Abbotsford House. A Lansdowne vaporetto stop would float in thousands of fans to the Ottawa Fury and Redblacks games. Music festival lovers would glide in for Escapade in June and CityFolk and its smaller Marvest music venues along Bank Street in Venice has a fleet of vaporettos – boat buses that ply the waters of their beautiful canals. Why not a vaporettto service on the lovely Rideau Canal? PHOTO: COURTESY OF LUCIA DOLCETTI September. There’d be no fuss to find parking to catch a meal at one of the great restaurants in the Glebe or at Lansdowne before these games and concerts. Teens could cruise in and meet up at the Cineplex. And what an environmentally friendly way to shop for fresh, local produce at the Ottawa Farmer’s Market in front of the historic Aberdeen Pavilion.
On page 17, the piece on the Booth Street complex also got me thinking. A Dow’s Lake vaporetto stop at the bottom of Preston Street would allow passengers to access this hopefully vibrant site with heritage buildings when it gets developed. And who wouldn’t want to see the tulip beds downtown, jump on the vaporetto to view the tulips blooming all along the canal and then finish off at Dow’s Lake to see the flowers and attractions there during the Tulip Festival in May? Passengers getting off at this stop could also take in Little Italy’s restaurants, cafés and pubs and revel in the Taste of Little Italy festival in June.
Beyond these ideas gleaned from the November issue, there would be so many more vaporetto stops to consider. Did you ever realize that all three of the capital’s universities are situated along the canal? Not only do students move between campuses for shared courses, these campuses also host many public concerts, plays and lectures. Imagine a Corktown Bridge vaporetto stop to catch the Ottawa Fringe Festival at the University of Ottawa or to drop off your kids at the university’s summer camps. Get off at the Hazel Street vaporetto stop to attend an early summer concert by one of Ottawa’s many talented community choirs at Saint Paul University or to pick up some fresh flowers at the Main Street Farmer’s Market. Take in a Ravens football or basketball game in August or September by getting off at the Bronson Bridge vaporetto stop.
In June, the Laurier Bridge vaporetto stop would be a gateway to not one but two great festivals – the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival and the Ottawa Franco- Ontarian Festival. This stop would also provide quick access to the National Arts Centre, with its world-class array of concerts and theatre and to some retail therapy at the Rideau Centre and the downtown shops nearby.
A vaporetto would be a huge tourist attraction for Ottawa. Many visitors would jump at the chance to view the city by day or night from the vantage point of our beautiful canal. As a Glebe resident, I would jump at every opportunity to use the vaporetto to take in the view and not stress over limited and expensive parking. Our city has committed itself to relieving congestion in communities such as the Glebe and to providing environmentally forwardthinking ways to get around by investing in car-free transportation, whether it be the LRT or more cycling lanes. Why not add a vaporetto to the mix? Can we give this idea of a Rideau Canal vaporetto some thought?
Corinne Packer is a proud Glebe and Ottawa resident and a travel enthusiast.