Big Rideau Lake, Ontario, Canada

Also known as:  Rideau Lakes

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Big Rideau Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Big Rideau Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Big Rideau Lake

Lake Locations: Canada - Ontario, Canada -

One of the largest lakes along the route of the Rideau Waterway in Ontario, Canada is Big Rideau Lake. This lake is controlled by a canal system called the Rideau Canal Waterway. With 45 locks at 23 stations along the canal, Rideau Waterway connects to more than nine lakes including Big Rideau Lake, Lower Rideau Lake, Upper Rideau Lake, Newboro Lake, Clear Lake, Indian Lake, Opinicon Lake, Sand Lake, and Whitefish Lake. Many of the locks operate today much as they did 160 years ago with big wooden doors and hand cranks. The Rideau Canal Waterway has been in continuous operation since it first opened in 1832. Big Rideau Lake connects to Upper and Lower Rideau Lakes and is the perfect place to visit with your family and friends.

With 1,610 acres of cool water, Big Rideau Lake is home to fish species such as northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, lake trout, crappie, sunfish, rock bass, and walleye. Big Rideau Lake is the deepest lake in the Rideau chain with a maximum depth of 328 feet and an average depth of 41 feet, so boating, kayaking, canoeing, and sailing are popular activities. There are a multitude of islands dotting the lake’s interior that are fun to visit and are used for recreational activities. Many of the islands host events like day camps and firework shows. Tennis, volleyball, and even sailing races are hosted on some of the islands as well. If exploring is in your blood, make your way down the chain of lakes to visit one or all of the connecting lakes.

In winter, a section of the Rideau Canal is open to ice skating and officially becomes the world’s largest ice skating rink. Big Rideau Lake also hosts an annual international speed skating tournament called Skate the Lake. Portland, a city located at the southeastern shore of the lake, is the primary event planner. The city of Portland was one of the first settlements along the Rideau Waterway and is now a thriving city. Portland is home to the Big Rideau Lake Association whose purpose is “to preserve and enhance the quality of life on Big Rideau Lake.”

Big Rideau Lake provides a haven for many species of wildlife including loon, blue heron, and osprey. On any typical day it is not uncommon to see half a dozen turtles sunning themselves on a log. By day hummingbirds flit back and forth and by night fireflies light up the air. Boaters keen on seeing wildlife may see beavers, otters, and even muskrats following in their wake. There is no better way to see wildlife off the lake than hiking through the wilderness. The Rideau Trail is popular among tourists for its range of terrain from flat farmland to rugged shield. Make your way through the forest hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing. Another trail to experience is the Cataraqui Trail, a four season experience for hikers, bikers, equestrians, snowmobilers, and cross-country skiers.

Located at the Northeastern edge of Big Rideau Lake is Murphys Point Provincial Park. This park offers tours of a restored mica mine and trails, as well as boat-in campsites on Big Rideau Lake. With its mix of open fields, mature forests and wetlands, Murphys Point offers a diversity of wildlife. Birders will love to visit during the warmer months to catch a glimpse of the bold feathers of scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, yellow warblers and Baltimore orioles. These spring and summer months also bring with them an astonishing assortments of wildflowers.

With an abundance of vacation rentals and real estate properties for sale, Big Rideau Lake provides a variety of short-term and long-term housing options. Plan a trip to see this lake and everything the Rideau Waterway have to offer.

Things to Do at Big Rideau Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Provincial Park

Fish Species Found at Big Rideau Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Crappie
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Whitefish

Find Places to Stay at Big Rideau Lake

If you’re considering a Big Rideau Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Big Rideau Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Big Rideau Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Big Rideau Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Parks Canada

Surface Area: 1,610 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 407 feet

Average Depth: 40 feet

Maximum Depth: 328 feet

Completion Year: 1832

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

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