a peek inside the fishbowl

10 Jul, 2022

A road trip to Rideau Antiques

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Oh! Things!|Ottawa

Back in April we were loaned a Ford Escape PHEV for a week and we were keen to put it to the test here, there, and everywhere. I have more to say about this vehicle and have been mulling over a post but for now I will say: WE BOUGHT IT. (!) But that, my friends, is a story for another day… maybe 7-8 months from now when we get the car? Sigh.

One of the places we went to during our Test Drive Week was Holly’s Hot Chicken. It’s not far from our place so really we went there with the excuse of learning how the vehicle handles in bad weather driving in an urban environment. Of course, we had to take it for a spin somewhere further out. Enter: RIDEAU ANTIQUES. They’re located between Lombardy and Rideau Ferry, 10 km south of Perth, and 10 km southwest of Smiths Falls, in the heart of Rideau Lakes. Their website says: “Please feel free to stop in and browse our large collection of treasures.”

That one statement does not accurately describe what awaits you at Rideau Antiques.

Sidebar: my parents dragged me on Sunday drives when I was a kid, which were incredibly long and boring and always ended up in a dusty old antique shop. I hated it at the time, so I am now quite surprised to find that I enjoy this kind of activity.

I knew we were in store for adventure the moment we pulled up to the place. I think there is parking in the back, but we parked on the road near the front entrance. This is what it looked like:

(By the way you can click on the photos in this post to see larger versions of them.)

Entrance of Rideau Antiques

Here’s a tip, leave your bags in the car, because there is little room to move here. Look how narrow this aisle is! (!!)

Narrow aisle at Rideau Antiques

Here’s a video I took of myself while we were there:

How can I describe Rideau Antiques? It’s a cross between grandma’s house and 50 years of yard sales piled on top of one another. You will undoubtedly feel like a visitor from another planet, another time, exploring what it means to be human. It also reminded me of an archeological dig.

Piles of cutlery, Rideau Valley Antiques

View of Rideau Antiques

Kitchen tins and stuff at Rideau Antiques

At Rideau Antiques >

Collector's heaven at Rideau Antiques

I lost Mark more than a few times…

Spot the person...at Rideau Antiques

It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

Mark and I walked around in amazement. Strangers we met in the aisle looked similarly bewildered and we shared knowing looks and OMG CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS PLACE type statements. For some, this would be a paradise, for others a nightmare. (As Google reviews suggest.) My take on this is that you have to see it to believe it. And if you think the inside is full of stuff, you should see the outside.

How does one find anything… Underneath these piles? I think that was my main question as I walked around, but apparently the people who work there have a keen memory of their inventory. So if you go in there looking for a vintage drawer pull or doorknob to match the others in your possession, or special commemorative spoon or whatever, they’re able to find it because somehow, THEY KNOW WHERE IT IS.

Outside at Rideau Antiques

Windows and more windows! At Rideau Antiques

I know you’re thinking: ANDREA, DID YOU BUY ANYTHING?

The answer is yes. I bought something. I paid too much for an ashtray with a dog on it. And no, I don’t smoke. But this is what happens in places like this. You will inevitably find something that charms and delights you.

I saw it in a pile of china figurines. **An actual pile.** I’m not even exaggerating. It was the world’s scariest game of Jenga. I saw the dog’s face peeking out amid china birds and cherubs and wanted to take a look but there was no way I was going to disturb this very fragile and jumbled pyramid. I beckoned to the fellow behind the cash and asked him to extract it on my behalf. He looked at what I was pointing at and said: THIS IS MY LEAST FAVOURITE CORNER OF THE ENTIRE PLACE.

It was a very careful operation but he was successful at (a) removing my new ashtray and (b) not breaking anything in the process. It was a honest to god miracle.

It cleaned up nicely and now it lives with my other knick knacks.

New-to-me ashtray! :D

Was it worth the drive? I say yes, for me it was. We combined it with lunch in Smiths Falls at a place called Harvest Social which we followed up with a visit to ANOTHER antique shop in Franktown, which was more curated and tidy. It was a nice little weekend getaway.

3 Responses to "A road trip to Rideau Antiques"

1 | Jenn Jilks

July 10th, 2022 at 11:54 am


You drove right near my house!

2 | Jinjer

July 13th, 2022 at 10:32 pm


Rideau Antiques is my kind of antique store!!!!!! That little dog ashtray is very cute. I’m glad the guy was able to dig it out of the pile for you.

3 | Jaye MacAskill

August 12th, 2022 at 2:58 pm


I love this! Great photos. We will definitely have to make a trip there one of these days when we finally make it up to Ottawa.

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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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