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17 Jul, 2022

Checking things off my Ottawa Summer Bucket List: Kayaking at Dow’s Lake

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa

I have kayaked. I am definitely not an expert but it’s something I really enjoy. We rent them when we go camping in the summer, and that’s the extent of my experience. I will say that as long as I’ve lived in Ottawa I’ve wanted to rent a kayak at Dow’s Lake and go for a paddle.

Sidebar: once when the girls were small we rented a peddle boat there. I remember it being a bit challenging as it got stuck in the weeds but it’s probably a good option for people who want to be on the water but have never been in a boating situation before.

A kayak is not a peddle boat. First of all, kayaking is a much more serious water sport. (I’m willing to bet you haven’t watched any competitive peddle boating lately!) It’s a workout too. You’re using your arms/shoulders/core. Second, you have much more control and you can go faster, but that comes with a wee risk of tipping. For what it’s worth I’ve only tipped once, and even then it wasn’t a full tip into deep water as I was in the shallows. It was because I was in a very lightweight kayak designed for speed and I was trying to juggle too many things but that is not part of this story.

Dow’s Lake kayaks are not THOSE kayaks.

Anyway, Mark and I got out early before the heat of the day and motored over there. This was the scene when we arrived.

Kayak rental at Dow's lake

Kayak rental at Dow's lake

It’s all very well organized and we didn’t wait long to be assigned our vessels. You fill out a waiver, hand over some ID for them to keep so you don’t take off with their watercraft, and they mark down your departure time. You pay when you exit in case you go past your allotted time. (We chose to go with the one hour rental and it was sufficient.)

We brought our own life jackets because I hate the idea of wearing a grimy old life jacket that has absorbed the sweaty bodies of a thousand people, but from what I saw, their life jackets seemed to be in good shape. We were given paddles, helped into our kayaks (which is only mildly awkward as you clamour down into the water), and pushed off into the deep.

Kayak selfie, at Dow's Lake, Ottawa

Gosh, it’s hot out there on a summer’s day. It goes without saying that you should sunscreen up and consider your hydration needs beforehand.

It was a very enjoyable activity. And isn’t it cool we can kayak, on a lake, in the city?

We went in a big circle, starting on the Arboretum side, exploring the water’s edge almost all the way to Carleton. We spotted lots of ducks, a turtle sunning itself, and I rescued a frisbee… which I threw AT someone on the shore whereas I was only meaning to throw merely IN THEIR DIRECTION as an offering. (ie. “Hey I found a frisbee! Here ya go!”)

Kayaking at Dow's Lake, Ottawa

Kayaking at Dow's Lake, Ottawa

Kayak under the bridge, Dow's Lake

It is very tranquil… the sound of the water, the sound of the city. We made our way across to what I refer to as “the tulip side” and enjoyed some people watching. It was nice to just sit there and watch the world go by from this vantage point.

Before we knew it we were back where we started. Climbing out is a bit easier than climbing in (just a bit) and it didn’t take long to settle up.

At this point I was thinking ahead to lunch so we hopped back in the car and made our way to the Glebe. We grabbed burritos at Mad Radish and brought them over to the canal for an impromptu picnic by the water. They were absolutely delicious and we congratulated ourselves on a well-executed plan.

Bucket list item: ACCOMPLISHED.

FYI, here’s the link for info about boat rentals on Dow’s Lake: www.dowslake.com/summer_rentals.php.

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2 Responses to "Checking things off my Ottawa Summer Bucket List: Kayaking at Dow’s Lake"

1 | Jenn Jilks

July 17th, 2022 at 12:39 pm


Good for you! I sold my canoe, as I couldn’t manage it anymore. I’ve never been on Dow’s Lake, although I’ve been around it.
I recall taking the kids to the flotilla, one kid in a baby carriage. They are in their 30s now!

2 | Jaye MacAskill

August 12th, 2022 at 2:51 pm


Sounds like a really fun time. Good for you guys!

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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