Pet Friendly Hog’s Back Park and Falls – Ottawa, Ontario

Some of the gems in our area are well known; Rideau Falls and the Rideau Canal are good examples. The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO world heritage site, so it gets lots of publicity. Rideau Falls is seen by every tourist who takes the Ottawa River boat tour.  But there are lesser known areas along the Rideau River that are truly spectacular and worth a little visit if you ever have the time when visiting our Nation’s fair Capital.

Pet Friendly Hog’s Back Park and Falls - Ottawa, Ontario

No doubts now! I know where I am!

One such place is a series of waterfalls constructed to separate the Rideau Canal from the Rideau River. Known officially as the Prince of Wales Falls, locals and the National Capital Commission (NCC) park entrance sign call them Hog’s Back Park and Falls.

Regardless of name, the Falls are a gem of a location! Perfect for a picnic, or a stroll along the river, the area is one of the few places in Ottawa where dogs are allowed near the water’s edge. Be warned though: the current is very strong so never let your dog go off leash. (In fact, the RCMP will fine you if you’re caught with your dog off leash!)

Pet Friendly Hog’s Back Park and Falls - Ottawa, Ontario

Loved these two gents… dog was carrying the supplies!

The bipeds and I visited Hog’s Back for the first time on the last weekend of April. What a wonderful walk it was!  A newly restored pavilion – so bright and cheerful – provides washrooms, picnic tables and a concession stand. The parking area isn’t large but we found a spot without any waiting time.

The trees are large and mature, the green spaces well-manicured. I saw my first sign of spring there – some tiny little violets! The trails provide opportunities to take in some lovely views, some with the gold and glimmering domed roof of the Greek Orthodox Church winking through.

Retaining walls at the top of a small hill are a hint of the work that was done many years ago to create Hog’s Back. Like much of Ottawa, Hog’s Back’s creation is connected to the construction of the Rideau Canal.

Pet Friendly Hog’s Back Park and Falls - Ottawa, Ontario

The Actual Dam

Before the Rideau Canal was constructed, Hog’s Back was the site of a set of rapids known as the Three Rock Rapids.  The Rapids were flooded out when Lt. Colonel John By’s design to create the Rideau Canal was realized. By’s design called for a large dam to divert water from the Rideau River to fill the artificially-created section of the canal leading to the Ottawa locks. It was that dam that resulted in the flooding of the Three Island Rapids located upstream.

Pet Friendly Hog’s Back Park and Falls - Ottawa, Ontario

Careful with Mom

The building of this dam was one of the greatest challenges faced in constructing the canal.  Imagine that the it collapsed 3 times during  the construction of the Rideau Canal. But when the dam was finally completed in 1831, it did, indeed, result in flooding the Rideau River at the Three Rock Rapids. The water rose by 12.5 meters (41 feet).

Pet Friendly Hog’s Back Park and Falls - Ottawa, Ontario

We should visit again in the summer and fall!

To prevent damage from additional flooding each spring, a large waste water weir was constructed. The water from this flows through a channel that was excavated in the eastern bank of the Rideau River. This created today’s Hog’s Back Falls as well as Mooney’s Bay, up river from the Falls.

Sadly, the head of the original rapids is now buried beneath the canal dam, but the lower section of the rapids can still be seen and is quite a sight. And that is where we were on our visit! I really did enjoy the spray of mist in the air created by all that turbulent water crashing down from the opened dam gates!

Pet Friendly Hog’s Back Park and Falls - Ottawa, Ontario

Spring has Sprung! Tiny Violets!

But I bet you’re wondering why we call that area Hog’s Back. Admit it! Am I right? Am I right? I thought so. Well, I had to do a little digging (and not of the good kind of doggy digging either) but I found an answer for you, Dear Reader.

Pet Friendly Hog’s Back Park and Falls - Ottawa, Ontario

Crossing the damn and making friends

Shortly before canal construction, about 1827, a Civil Engineer named John MacTaggart coined the name Hog’s Back. At the time, the rapids were about 600 meters (2 000 feet) in length with a drop of about 1.8 meters (6 feet). They were navigable by canoe, so no portage was required. Our civil engineer recorded his description of the place as “a noted ridge of rocks, resembling a Hog’s Back, from the circumstances of rafts men with their wares [timber rafts] sticking on it in coming down the stream.” I interpret it to mean that when the rafts are on the rapids with timber stinking out it looks like a wild hogs back. Wild hogs have a ridge on their backs.

Pet Friendly Hog’s Back Park and Falls - Ottawa, Ontario

Nice spot to soak up some sun!

So there is your answer!

Hog’s Back was and is a lovely place where water rushes in powerful surges.  It’s a tiny little piece of wilderness right near Ottawa’s city centre.

You can find lots of university students sunbathing on the flat rocks or fishing along the water’s edge.  Dogs roam (on leash) and there is a large green mowed field where, on the day we were visiting, some folks dressed up in medieval gear were mock fighting.

All and all, the location will quickly charm you. I believe it’s the water’s furious energy that lures everyone in. It’s contagious. It’s strong. It’s happy.

Pet Friendly Hog’s Back Park and Falls - Ottawa, Ontario

Powerful and Happy Water!

Next time we go, we will take time to walk over to the other side of the dam and visit Mooney’s Bay, a place of tranquil waters before that power house of a waterfall. If we time our visit well, the Rideau Canal will be operational and we will get to watch the levies rise and fall with boats in them.

Pet Friendly Hog’s Back Park and Falls - Ottawa, Ontario

people were fishing…

The bipeds noticed we could, in theory anyway, cycle from our home all the way to Mooney’s Bay. If our theory is correct, I sense a fun day in my near future! I am ready for my basket, Doggles on and go!

There is great energy at pet friendly Hog’s Back Park and Falls – Ottawa, Ontario and I can’t wait to go back!


19 Comments on “Pet Friendly Hog’s Back Park and Falls – Ottawa, Ontario

  1. Thank you, Monte, for reminding and demonstrating to us again how lovely a city Ottawa is… The Rideau Falls have been a great inspiration to me as they feature, in a mysterious way, in the third volume of my trilogy.

  2. Wonderful places, so love to be near the water and feel and absorb it’s energy! Will be waiting for the new updates of your adventures, Montecristo family, photoes are just great, you look so toned, Stefan and Sonja and Monte, brave little heart, 🙂

    • Water has a lot of amazing energy – we live on the shores of a big moving river and I don’t think we could live away from water anymore! And thank you… we certainly try to stay fit and healthy. 🙂

  3. Hello Monte Cristo,

    Thanks for stopping by the bookstore on Sparks. I hope you enjoyed the milk bone for a snack later. Make sure you tell your mom to stop by again.

    • I shared it with my friend Punsy … because that’s a lot of milkbone! We will stop in again for sure! I think we need to do a review of Sparks street!!

  4. What a neat expedition! Your bipeds take you so many interesting places!

  5. Another awesome place to see! So glad you are having some Spring!

  6. Oh Ottawa, there are many awesome places to see and go with your dog. I remember visiting the Rideau Falls with Mocha (her first time), she has a phobia of heights so we didn’t stay very long, but I was very happy to engrave our names together on the railing, something me and my dad did for many years. I wish there was more dog friendly water spots where it was safe for them to swim 🙂 and a beach hihi! Another nice blog entry, keep on sharing!

  7. Looks like a good time, amigo. Rico approved!

  8. Monte, Dude, who knew there was so much water to see in and around Ottawa? It looks like you went from winter to summer in a hurry. My biped mother is looking forward to what you can show her in Ottawa. I wish I could come, but I’m pretty sure the TBEX conference in Toronto would be tres boring even if it were pet friendly (which I doubt). Plus, even though I hang with the small dogs at the dog park (the big ones are mostly nuts), I’m too big to fit under an airplane seat:( Your Phurry Philly Phriend, Dino
    P.S. I think there’s a “damn you autocorrect” moment in your 12th paragraph, penultimate sentence. (Stinking or sticking?) BTW, I blame my biped mother for turning me into a proofreading boor—because, really, proofreaders who live in glass blogs shouldn’t be correcting other bloggers— bipeds or otherwise!

    • Ottawa is an amazing city. I believe it may be Canada’s best kept secret. It’s a marvel in many ways. We have two major rivers and the canal. We also have hundreds of lakes nearby. I am really looking forward to showing your mom around Dino. It’s almost a shame she isn’t staying longer! So much to see – but I think we will settle on the core. Parliament is a must. I wish you could come too amigo … maybe one day I will visit you – and you can bring me to your dog park!

      P.S. Noted and thank you! 🙂

  9. Cute blog. I am interested in walking there today. I love the historical background that you took the time to give.
    ( I think you mean quadruped. Humans are bipeds)

  10. Hi,I read your new stuff named “Pet Friendly Hog’s Back Park and Falls – Ottawa, Ontario” daily.Your story-telling style is witty, keep up the good work! And you can look our website about proxy server list.

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