Taking the Plunge in Old Ottawa East’s Local Swimming Holes

Jamie Brougham

Maybe not so across the board, but for some things that add to the value of our local community, this summer has been absolutely the best! Where to start? How about swimming…

Finding three or four spots on the Rideau River in and around Old Ottawa East that are prime for swimming has been a profoundly excellent experience and one that for me has transformed our central municipal neighbourhood into cottage country! Having done the research this summer, here’s my list of the top three places to swim along the Rideau River in our community:

A lone wader ventures into the swimming hole at the edge of Brewer Park in Old Ottawa South. Photo by Jamie Brougham

A lone wader ventures into the swimming hole at the edge of Brewer Park in Old Ottawa South. Photo by Jamie Brougham

1: At Brewer Park, by the pond, just down from the dock. I found this great spot that was mostly man-made close to where the pond drains. There is a bit of a current there, and it is sloped wading in without a lot of yuck underfoot. The current keeps the top of the water clear – which is a big issue closer to shore on many spots along the river. People walk by and look with curious wonder and some ask if it’s ‘safe to swim’ when I’m already wet-haired and in the water… Yes, it most certainly is!

2: At the Windsor Park dock. The truth is that I only tried this spot once because I wasn’t keen to swim with a bunch of teenagers (who could be my kids!) – and they or their families were swimming just about every time I biked or paddled by. The one time I did find the dock used by a couple of adults around my age, I did running dives into the river – and it was special. I was reminded that it is never too late for a happy (second) childhood! The only drawback is the totally natural shoreline that can be mucky getting out. I just paddled to the side of the dock and pulled myself out, but if you do have to walk out, hmmm. My recommendation to the City or the community – install a ladder!

A local family beats the heat this summer by cooling off in one of several choice neighbourhood swimming spots along the Rideau River. Photo by Jamie Brougham

A local family beats the heat this summer by cooling off in one of several choice neighbourhood swimming spots along the Rideau River. Photo by Jamie Brougham

3. At the foot of Centennial Avenue in OOE. There’s a little path that leads to the water as well as some stones put in place from yesteryear that ease getting in and out considering how mucky it is. Once past the submerged (imperfect, but functional) walkway, it’s a couple of strokes out to the open water and – bliss! There’s an abundance of clean water that takes the summer heat and stands it on its head.

Interestingly enough, the big swimming disappointment for me this summer has been the Brantwood Beach and dock. The dock, while functional, is at the end of a road leading down to the river from the parking lot and it is not well-placed for swimming. The shoreline is mucky, and there is a significant hazard just off the dock – a big old piece of sewer pipe – not nice. A better spot for a dock at Brantwood would be in front of the field house, since the water there is deeper, and the swimming would be closer to the heart of the park where people are enjoying themselves! As to the beach itself, the dog walkers have been helping to keep the geese away, but when the geese get too plentiful, the beach becomes a big mess.

Ella with mom Maureen Ward and dad Andrew Crawford display a little print handiwork on a Kisbee Ring that will be posted by the dock next spring at Brantwood Park. Photo by Jamie Brougham

Ella with mom Maureen Ward and dad Andrew Crawford display a little print handiwork on a Kisbee Ring that will be posted by the dock next spring at Brantwood Park. Photo by Jamie Brougham

The Rideau River is a magic resource! One of the greatest features of the river is that most of the shorelines are natural. And as for water quality, this summer was one of the cleaner ones on record, according to the City’s water checks at Mooney’s Bay.

The health and cleanliness of the river has also benefitted greatly from the work of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. So, since it’s all clear in the Rideau River, what’s stopping you from taking the plunge?

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