New year, new possibilities.

by John McDowell, URLA President

As we begin 2021, I look forward to the days starting (slowly) to lengthen. because it means that we are on the upward swing! With 2020 finally in the rearview mirror, it’s a chance for new beginnings. As you can see from the picture above, we updated our URLA signage in December. Together with Steve Moretti and Dave Counter, I helped install the new aluminum sign that features a view of Upper Rideau Lake from the North Shore, with two canoeists paddling past the image of our logo, a white heron. During the year, some of our Board members changed. Most recently, Terry Frostad, our Secretary retired, treasurer Michael Hogan moved back to Saskatchewan for family reasons and Karyn Standen is now our Secretary.

Many thanks to each of you.

Unfortunately, Gaynor Stachel, who was set to assume Treasurer duties in the new year has had to withdraw due to pandemic related work duties. l would like to thank Gaynor for agreeing to volunteer with us and understand that circumstances can and do change. She is doing her best to support our Treasurer requirements for the remainder of the month.

So, what’s ahead?

Well, it’s clear that COVID-19 is accelerating changes that were already underway for our lake and our residents. We can expect more development and more full-time residents. Westport will grow, starting this coming year, when the first of its new “Watercolour” residential homes are constructed. Our summers may even stay hotter, longer.

At the same time, there is increased awareness of lake health, and recognition of the value of responsible development. I expect, for example, that Westport will establish an inspection program for private septic systems. The Township now registers site plan conditions on title for waterfront properties, to guide future owners. Dr. Smol’s team took core samples from our lake sediment – and we should get some early results in 2021. And, URLA is doing more water quality testing.

Thanks for your continuing support.  See you on the lake!



Natural lake shorelines trap runoff effectively, acting as a buffer to absorb contaminants, keep lakes clean and reduce algae.

To encourage planting along the lake, the URLA, with the Rideau Lakes Environmental Foundation & Rideau Valley Conservation Authority’s support, is pleased to continue the Tree and Shrub Program in 2021. The program will provide low-cost potted trees, shrubs, & bare root seedlings.

The cost for URLA Members is $3 per tree or shrub or $12 for non-URLA members.


by John McDowell
President, Upper Rideau Lakes Association

As I write this, the weather has changed – cool and, today, quite rainy.  There are clear signs that fall is just around the corner.

This has been a busy summer for our Upper Rideau Lake Association.  The Board was able to organize and execute our first “virtual” AGM.  Overall, we had some 80 people pre-register.  There were about 70 computers logged on, some with more than one person “attending”.  So, while our circumstances were certainly new – and there were no hotdogs (!)- our meeting was well-attended and we enjoyed excellent presentations and discussion with our speakers.

Once again, we were very fortunate to have Mayors Robin Jones (Westport) and Arie Hoogenboom (Rideau Lakes) speak to our Association, and to have our Councillors also present.  Thank-you, each of you, once again.

Our guest speaker was lake scientist, Queen’s Distinguished Professor, Dr. John Smol.  Dr Smol reminded us that climate change is dynamic, with longer and hotter summers (and less ice cover in winter), affecting lakes, including our own.  Algae blooms, including dangerous “cyanobacterial” blue green algae, may well become more prevalent, even in lakes with steady or declining nutrient levels.  If so, these blooms will pose a greater risk for health, and can lower waterfront property values.

Overall, his message is that all of us – governments, residents, conservation authorities, etc. – have a key role to play to give back to our beautiful lake!

At our July AGM, our Association again elected a volunteer Board for this year.  We said farewell (as a Board member), to long-time volunteer, Anne Carter.  In addition to our colleagues who were re-elected, I am very pleased to welcome new Directors Peggy Thompson (Membership), and Tom Donnelly (Waterfront/tree programs).  We are already benefitting from having you on our Board, thank-you!

I would like to update you on our advocacy efforts, with other local lake associations, to strengthen the draft Official Plan (OP) in Rideau Lakes Township. 

Once finalized this fall, in all likelihood, the revised OP will guide land use planning for a decade or so, so it is worth seeking a clear position on key issues.  We are asking our Council, and especially with respect to our lake, Councillors Lavoie and Pollard, as well as Mayor Hoogenboom, for three basic things.

Our Township of Rideau Lakes Official Plan should:

  1. Not weaken the protections of lake water quality in the current OP- our Township should not move backward;
  2. Protect the “lakes of Rideau Lakes” at least as much as the OPs of our neighbouring municipalities (e.g., North and South Frontenac; Tay Valley; Leeds and the Thousand Islands); and
  3. Actually aim to improve lake water quality!

We believe that there is work to do in all three areas.  And, sometimes I feel that our collective advocacy efforts are not making as much of a difference with our Township as we would hope.  I would encourage our members, therefore, to speak directly with our elected officials on this – and if people have questions from our URLA Board, to speak with me, or Treasurer Michael Hogan, as you wish.

As we enter the fall, there will be much to do for our Association, and individually, for each of you and your families.  Take care, stay healthy, and keep in touch.

John McDowell
President, Upper Rideau Lakes Association

Water Quality Report – 2020 AGM

Water clarity in May and June 2020 was to a depth of 10.5 meters at the Kanes Bay sample point. This is extremely clear.

The health of Upper Rideau Lake​ ​remains fragile, as any introduction of an unnatural component into our water would set our lake back. Currently, nutrient levels (such as phosphorus) are high but not rising. Maintaining a healthy lake depends on how we as lakefront owners treat it. One of the main functions of URLA is to monitor the health of our lake and we operate many programs to achieve this goal.

URLA continues to monitor our lake water quality by sampling the Upper Rideau monthly through the Lake Partners Program (LPP).

These sampling results can be found at​ .

After a significant rain event ( 25mm) URLA volunteers will sample 3 locations:​ ​in McNallys Bay (red dot), the mouth of Adrains Creek (light blue water droplet) and upstream at the Sunnyside culverts (dark blue dot).

Adrains Creek
URLA has always worked with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) to share information which helps us to maintain a healthy lake. RVCA contacted us earlier this year with a concern they had identified in McNallys Bay. Adrains Creek was a possible source of nutrients flowing into our lake. To further investigate this concern, URLA and the Township of Rideau Lakes have joined with the RVCA to fund a special project.

RVCA is currently sampling Adrains Creek with the help of URLA volunteers after significant rain events to determine if the creek is indeed flushing excessive nutrients into McNallys Bay. The study is ongoing and results will be published upon completion. Having the Township of Rideau Lakes join URLA and RVCA is an important partnership we hope to maintain for the future. This project is in addition to RVCA’s regular monthly sampling.


Water Ranger Fresh Water Test Kit
To augment the Lake Partners Program and RVCA sampling, URLA has acquired a free Fresh Water Testing Kit from ​Water Rangers.​ This is being used to test creeks and streams that flow into our lake in the Township of Rideau Lakes.

The tests give us immediate results to establish a baseline of data. Dramatic change in a weekly test would suggest a possible pollutant and require upstream investigating to determine the source.

URLA is purchasing a second test kit to monitor the creeks and streams in and around Westport that flow into the Upper Rideau.

Water Rangers Testing in Adrains Creek.

Blue Green Algae?
The sight of any algae bloom is always a concern for folks around the lake. Is it really Blue Green algae? What should I do? Who should I contact?

To answer those questions, the following link to a PDF will show you a cost-free test to determine if what you have observed is blue green algae.

If you identify blue green algae in Upper Rideau Lake, please contact URLA immediately:

For an emergency: Spills Action Centre 1 800-268-6060.


Hazard Buoy Program
The hazard buoys program also falls underwater quality portfolio. The strong winds of 2019 moved 3 buoys off their stations and one stayed missing until May of this year.


To address this issue we are increasing the anchor chain size to ⅜”. We will also do chain inspections in July to hopefully change out worn chains before they wear through.

All 10 Hazard Buoys were in position for the 2020 Victoria Day Long weekend even though the Rideau Canal remained closed.  We will continue to monitor the health of our lake through these and any new initiatives that become available.


Please enjoy our lake in a safe and respectful manner.

Dave Counter

Minutes, 2019 AGM





Saturday, July 6TH 2019, 10:00 a.m.

North Crosby Community Hall, Westport, Ontario



9.30-10.00 am Registration and coffee and muffins

Between 65 and 70 members, guests, and members of the Board of Directors were                                 present





Christine Skirth, the President, was unable to attend.  Anne Carter, Membership Director, chaired the meeting and welcomed everyone to the 30th Annual General Meeting of the Upper Rideau Lake Association and thanked everyone for coming.  She introduced invited speakers:  Arie Hoogenboom, Mayor, Township of Rideau Lakes;  Robin Jones, Mayor of the Village of Westport; Michael Yee, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority; Jayne MacDonald, URLA Past President, Lake Partners Program.  Also present were Rideau Lakes Councillors Bob Lavoie and Ron Pollard and Westport  Councillors, Barry Card, Melissa Sullivan and Dr. Bob Roberts.   Please join us for a hot dog barbeque complete with birthday cake following the meeting.




  1. i) Mayor Arie Hoogenboom – Township of Rideau Lakes


Mayor Hoogenboom talked about being fiscally responsible, spending, and reducing debt. He has been involved with many services and infrastructure projects such as: the creation of 7 Community Enhancement Committees, which are the umbrella organizations for the Township volunteer programs;  the formation of the Rideau Lakes Lake Association Committee and grant program, John McDowell is the Upper Rideau Lake Association representative and we received $2266.00 in grant money to be used for education, safety, scientific, ecosystem projects and studies.  County Rd 10 improvements;  Looking at alternatives to roadside spraying;  working with contractor to improve recycling issues;  increasing the number of mandatory septic re-inspections to 300 from 150 for this year for Big Rideau Lake, Bass Lake and the Islands;  Smiths Falls Hospital grant – $100,000 over a 5 year period;  Official plan update meeting – Open House – Waterfront development –  July 12th ; landfill site closing July 31st; dealing with leachate issue at the waste site; demolition of building on Gallagher property in Portland; and, working with the owners of Jubilee Block on development issues.  The contract has been awarded for live stream council meetings commencing September.  New municipal website is up and running – as well as new emails for staff.



  1. ii) Mayor Robin Jones – Village of Westport


Mayor Jones introduced the members of the Westport Council, Barry Card, Melissa Sullivan and Dr. Bob Roberts.  As Warden of the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville for the last 2 years, she has been involved with the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) project to improve internet, broadband, and cell coverage in rural areas.  The Provincial government announced in May it will be providing $71 million dollars funding to support this.  An application was made to the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund for $5 million for improvements to fix Bedford St.  Will be informed in October whether successful or not.   The new wastewater system is working well, however there are capacity issues mainly due to illegal sump pump connections which is holding up new development.  The mayor stated that she is in the process of drafting legislative authority that grants authority for municipalities, under certain circumstances, authority to enter a dwelling house for the purpose of inspection for illegal sewar connections.  A lawyer is drafting legislative options but a credible science based argument why the discharges to the lakes and rivers pose environmental threats and should be discontinued is needed.   The mayor asked if anyone is able to provide scientific information on this issue, to please contact her.


Question – Allison Smith:  Will there be gas at the harbour.  Mayor Jones – no gas due to environmental issues.   A new contract has been negotiated with Le Boat.  There may be a pumpout.


Harbour Committee – Councillor Melissa Sullivan is the Chair.  Looking at buying property, dock repairs and beautifying the entrance area.  An agreement was reached with the homeowners on Fetch Murphy Way.  Widening will be done to improve parking and public safety.


iii)  Michael Yee, Rideau Valley Conservation Authority                     


Michael Yee, is an Environmental Planner and Biologist with RVCAHe talked about how the lake has changed over time.  In the early 90’s the lake was green.  Lake is clearer now and phosphorus levels not as high.  He talked about watersheds and habitats.  Water cycle – 40-60% evaporates; 30-50% infiltrates into the soil; 10% runs off surface into water bodies.  Nutrients are good but not in excess.  We have double the nutrients; algae dominated; need sustainable drainage or low impact development that is natural.  He talked about wetlands and forests and the benefits of a naturalized riparian buffer and 30 meter setback.  Want to fight erosion, discourage geese and spruce up your shoreline? RVCA offers a full service subsidized shoreline naturalization program.  For further details contact Meaghan.macdonald@rvca .  RVCA is also working with municipalities to establish workshops on how to to infiltrate storm water naturally.   The “Lake Protection Workbook” is a self assessment tool for shoreline property owners and is available on the RVCA and FOCA websites.


In closing – Waterfront Living – Think about what you can do to give back.


  1. iv) Don Rasmussen – Rideau Lakes Environmental Foundation (RLEF)


Don stated that the Rideau Lakes Environmental Foundation was set up as a charity intended as a way to raise funds for the Big Rideau Lake, Upper and Lower Rideau Lakes.  Requests are received from various organizations for funds for environmental studies and projects useful to the lakes.  The RLEF consists of 7 members, 5 from the Big Rideau Lake Association and 2 from the Upper Rideau Lake Association.  There are no overhead expenses, so all money donated goes directly towards projects and studies.  There are ongoing projects so an annual income is required.   Please donate.  If you have any ideas for projects on the lake, please contact us at .  We issue income tax receipts.



  1. v) Jayne MacDonald – URLA Past President, Lake Partners Program – Tribute to Jack Cook (URLA Founding Member)


Jayne McDonald dedicated her presentation to the late Jack Cook, URLA Founding Member, who passed away in 2018.


The Lake Partner Program in conjunction with the Ministry of the Environment began the water sampling program on 3 locations (Kane’s Bay (Jack Cook), McNally’s Bay (Jayne MacDonald) and Mulville’s Bay – Brian and Diane Wilkinson) on the Upper Rideau Lake.   Water is tested for phosphorus, calcium and water clarity.  Phosphorous levels are high, development being the main cause.  Calcium levels are not a problem.  Jayne provided a secchi disk demonstration that is used to measure water clarity.  In 1990 Jack’s mean was 1.7 and in 2017 the mean was 4.4.  Before 2000 the mean was 2.5 m and 2000 and later 3.9m.  The Health Unit tests Foley Mountain Beach once a week for ecoli.


Jack Cook was President in 1990 of the Concerned Citizens of the Upper Rideau Lake (CCOURL).  The name was changed to the Upper Rideau Lake Association at the 1990 Annual General Meeting.  Jack was involved with the Strategic Planning Committee in 1990 which developed and recommended short and long term goals for the Association and various other Committees to address water quality concerns.


In closing – we all still need to continue to do due diligence.




The minutes were posted on our website for the past year.   There being no errors or omissions –

MOTION: THAT THE MINUTES OF THE JULY 7th  2018 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING BE APPROVED. Moved  Don Rasmussen:  Seconded by George Ingram  Motion carried


  1. PRESIDENT’S REPORT – Anne Carter


Anne introduced the current Executive members:  Christine Skirth, President (absent); John McDowell, Lakeshore/Government Liaison; Anne Carter, Membership; Theresa (Terry) Frostad, Secretary; David McKinney, Public Relations/Webmaster; Dave Counter, Water Quality/Navigation Buoy Program; Diana Kemp, Community Affairs; Steve Moretti, Member at Large; Michael Hogan, Member at Large.  There are 3 members of the Board who are stepping down this year, Christine Skirth, President, Murray Kane, Treasurer and Diana Kemp, Community Affairs.   Anne, on behalf of the Board, thanked them for their many years of dedicated volunteer service to URLA and wished them well in their future endeavours.


  1. FINANCIAL REPORT – Murray Kane


Murray presented the financial report for the Year Ended April 30, 2019, as prepared by the firm of Nephin Winter Bingley, Chartered Professional Accountants.   Copies were circulated at the meeting.  Assets are listed on page 3, expenditures on page 4, exceeded revenues by $894.00 this year.



Moved by Wendy Stewart,  Seconded by Joan Duncan –  All in favor        Motion carried


Report attached to Minutes




Moved by Allison Smith, Seconded by Melanie Tod – All in favor                                      Motion carried





  1. i) Community Affairs – Diana Kemp is responsible for maintaining a data base with road representatives, providing new members with a welcome package and maintaining a community infrastructure program.


  1. ii) Membership – Anne Carter.  We have 97 members this year.  Thanks to David McKinney for setting up FOCA online membership payment.  The membership year is 01 Jan to 31 Dec.


iii) Lakeshore – John McDowell.  URLA is launching a new “sapling program” for 2020, to support the planting of up to 300 trees on the shoreline and adjoining properties of Upper Rideau Lake and its watershed.  The small seedling program was held in May and 390 trees/shrubs were distributed free of charge.  Further information can be obtained on our website


  1. iv) Public Relations/Webmaster – David McKinney. New postings will be done once a week.  We are on facebook.  It has been 1 year with the new website.  New ideas are always welcome.  David posted survey results for volunteer activities on the big screen.  If anyone wishes to volunteer or has any ideas on activities, please contact us even if it is only for a few hours.


  1. v) Water Quality/Navigation Buoy Program – Dave Counter. George Ingram handed over the management of the Navigation Buoy Program to Dennis Duncan this year.  Peter Newgard, Paul Byrne and Marc Robichaud will continue to install and maintain the buoys.   Regular maintenance was performed on the buoys and they were installed around the 24th of May weekend.




Jayne MacDonald, Past President, presented the following Motion:


  • Motion: to amend article 3 to By-law No 1 in order to accommodate the extra director positions, as follows:





  1. The applicants for incorporation shall become the first directors of the Corporation whose term of office on the board of directors shall continue until their successors are elected. The affairs of the Corporation shall be managed by a board of   9 up to 11 directors, comprising the President, the Vice-President, the Secretary, the Treasurer together with 5 7 other directors, each of whom at the time of his or her election and throughout his or her term of office shall be a member of the Corporation.  Each director shall be elected to hold office until the first annual meeting after election or until his or her successor shall have been duly elected.  A director whose term of office has expired shall be eligible for re-election if otherwise qualified.  Provided that, notwithstanding the failure of the members to elect a full board of directors, provided that  a quorum of directors is then in office, such directors may then appoint, from among the members, a director or directors to establish the requisite number of directors.  At each annual meeting of members, the election of directors may be by a show of hands unless there is more than 1 nominee for any position, in which case, the election of directors shall be by way of written ballot.


Moved by Joan Duncan, seconded by Don Rasmussen – All in favor       Motion accepted


Jayne then presented the new Slate of Officers/Directors for the year 2019-2020 as follows:


President/Government Liaison:                            John McDowell

Vice President:                                                  Vacant

Secretary:                                                         Theresa (Terry) Frostad

Membership:                                                     Anne Carter

Treasurer:                                                         Michael Hogan

Lakeshore:                                                        Steve Moretti

Community Affairs:                                            Dana Menger

Public Relations /Webmaster:                             David McKinney

Water Quality/Navigation Buoy Program             Dave Counter

Member at Large:                                              Karyn Standen

Member at Large:                                              John Cottrill


Jayne then called for nominations from the floor to fill the Vice President position.  There were no nominations.



Moved by Joan Duncan, seconded by Wendy Stewart   –  Voted all in favor          Declared Duly Elected





  • Presentations to Long Standing Members (Wendy Stewart).


Lifetime membership awards were presented by Wendy Stewart, URLA Past President, to 3 long standing members of URLA for their many years of volunteer service and dedication to the Upper Rideau Lake Association.


Murray Kane – Treasurer for over 10 years

George Ingram – President, Past President and Navigation Buoy Program

Don Rasmussen – Navigation Buoy Program and Rideau Lakes Environmental Foundation representative


Thank you on behalf of the Upper Rideau Lake Association.  Your many accomplishments and volunteer efforts over the years were greatly appreciated.   We wish you well in all your future endeavours.




  1. i) Jayne MacDonald stated a bass study is being conducted by Carleton University.  The bass were tagged at the recent bass tournament.  If you should catch one, website is on the tag for reporting.


  1. ii) Wendy Stewart asked if there was any further information regarding the Bass vs Walleye study.  URLA conducted a survey which indicated 60% walleye/40% bass and provided the results to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).   Anne indicated that no further information has been received from MNRF and that URLA will keep members informed on the progress of this issue.




A HUGE thank you to the following for their generous support over the past year:


The Cove Inn – for providing a great spot for meetings, complete with coffee

Thanks you to our many volunteers, road reps, water samplers and AGM helpers (Linda and Glenn Wilcox).

Special thanks also to our Navigation Buoy team, George Ingram, Don Rasmussen, Peter Newgard, Paul Byrne, Marc Robichaud, and Dennis Duncan for once again installing and maintaining our navigation buoys.


MOTION:    Don Rasmussen moved that the meeting be adjourned seconded by George Ingram.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:35 pm.


President: John McDowell         ……………………………………………….


Secretary:  Terry Frostad           ………………………………………………..


URLA Membership Form

Upper Rideau Lake Association
Box 67, Westport, ON, K0G 1X0

Membership fees are $40 per year. You may pay your fees in one of two ways:

  • To pay by credit card, click here to be transferred to a secure payment page run by FOCA (Federation of Ontario Cottagers Association)
  • To pay by cheque, print and complete this form and mail with your cheque for $40.00 to Upper Rideau Lake Association, Box 67, Westport ON, K0G 1X0.

By paying the membership fee members agree:

  • Membership is from Jan 1 to Dec 31. Fees are payable to the Upper Rideau Lake Association by mail or using the FOCA payment link on our website.
  • Fees must be paid to have access to member-only benefits and FOCA benefits.
  • Unaudited financial statements will be prepared annually by an accountant and made available to members.
  • Membership is for one family
  • Membership is open to everyone who cares about the Upper Rideau Lake.

Volunteers Needed
The Upper Rideau Lakes Association is looking for volunteers. If you can assist in any of the following capacities, we would love to hear from you.

  • Coordinate social events
  • Serve on the Board of Directors
  • Serve as a Road Representative

If you are interested in volunteering, please send us an emailwith your contact information and indicate your interests in working as URLA volunteer.


A year like no other…

An update from John McDowell, URLA President
Screen Shot 2019-09-02 at 10.40.53I hope that everyone is keeping healthy and well.  I’m sure that you are looking forward to the warm weather and enjoying the beauty of Upper Rideau Lake and region.  The ice has now been off the lake and spring has started!

This year, however, is so far like no other.  The coronavirus has disrupted the lives of all, and ended the lives of some, Canadians.  Our governments tell us this virus will continue to be dangerous and a personal challenge for some time to come.

Speaking personally, I find the worst of “social isolating” is the uncertainty – we don’t know how long this will last.  So, we tend to live almost day to day, and look forward the day when normalcy, perhaps a temporary “new normal” will return.

To some extent, this “uncertainty” affects certain decisions and operations of our lake association.  And yet, like every year, most things remain relatively certain and predictable.

Here are some tangible examples of activities that the Board is working on.

Boating on our lake. 
We are determining the best way of placing our shoal markers on our lake, as we do every year.  However, the municipality of Rideau Lakes has ordered public boat launches closed for now, and all Parks Canada facilities are temporarily closed.

Tree and seedling program
Many of you have ordered young trees (seedlings and saplings).  We are confirming delivery logistics with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority – stay tuned on when, where and how these can be picked up, later this spring.

Thanks to our volunteers. Volunteers will continue with our lake water testing, in ongoing support of watershed management and a healthy lake.

We will have an Annual General Meeting – it is scheduled for July – and we will let you know as soon as we can when it will occur and who our keynote speaker will be.  We are very much looking forward to this event – even more than usual – and seeing everyone of you!

I should also flag two important administrative items.  First of all, there will likely be a few openings for volunteers on our Board, for the year ahead.  The Board is a good and fulfilling place to volunteer.  While special skills are always valuable, two attributes that contribute to a successful Board are a willingness and availability to lead work in one’s specific area, and a passion for serving Upper Rideau Lake!

If you or a friend would like more information on volunteering for our Board, please send me an email.

The URLA also needs to receive membership renewal – this year, the household membership is $40, due by the end of June (and ideally remitted earlier).  Membership can be paid by online here.  If people have questions, please contact our membership coordinator Anne Carter

Please feel free to pass on information about our Association to neighbours, and new arrivals on our lake, to help us recruit new members.

Take care everyone, and best wishes for the spring!
President, Upper Rideau Lakes Association

URLA 2019 Tree and Shrub Programs

Naturalized lake shorelines trap runoff effectively,  acting as a buffer to absorb contaminants that keep lakes cleaner and also reduce algae and weed growth.

Additional vegetation reduces erosion and provides better overall habitat for may fish species.

Planting more trees and shrubs along your shoreline is among the easiest and most beneficial things you can do as a property owner to help protect the lake for future generations.

To encourage more planting along the lake, the Upper Rideau Lakes Association (URLA) with the support of the Rideau Lakes Environmental Foundation and Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, is pleased to announce a new program for property owners on Upper Rideau Lake.

The program will provide low-cost potted trees and shrubs, and bareroot seedlings for planting in May, 2020. The cost for URLA Members is $3 / tree or shrub ($12 for non-members). The bareroot seedlings are FREE for URLA members.

“We are grateful to the support of the Rideau Lakes Environmental Foundation and the help of the Rideau Valley Conversation Authority in helping to defray the cost of these trees and shrubs,” said John McDowell, URLA President. “Planting trees or shrubs near the lakeshore will make a huge difference to the quality of the lake for years and years to come.”

McDowell said this is the first year of the potted tree program, and he is excited about the reaction he has received to date. If there is sufficient demand, he said the URLA will consider continuing the program in subsequent years.

Two Gallon Potted Trees / Shrubs
These two-gallon potted trees and shrubs are ready to plant. The saplings are 45 cm to 1.5 meters depending on species.

Silver Maple, Sugar Maple, Bur Oak, White Birch, White Pine, Spruce, Larch / Tamarack

Serviceberry / Juneberry, Highbush Cranberry, Black Elderberry

Bareroot Seedling Program
Seedlings are only available in bundles of 10 and should be planted soon after delivery as they are perishable and require refrigeration. FREE to URLA Members.

Red Maple, Bur Oak, Red Oak, Silver Maple, White Birch, Eastern White Cedar, Eastern White Pine, Hard Sugar Maple

Pussy Willow, Sandbar Willow, Red Osler Dogwood, Highbush Cranberry, Nannyberry, Buttonbush

Contact URLA Lakeshore Director Steve Moretti.

Upper Rideau Lake Water Quality

Water Safety and Safe Water

By Dave Counter
URLA Director of Water Quality

The winter of 2019 left us with an abundance of water. High water levels come with strong currents and when you add some unpredictable wind it can be disastrous for boaters. This combination of high water and wind delayed the opening of some Rideau Waterway locks this spring. The Narrows lock  was closed to boaters several times due to high winds this summer. The Lockmaster makes the decision to close a lock by following strict protocols. The high water and wind stayed with us for most of the summer, which made it harder for our many volunteers to complete their tasks.


Our Water Sampling Program

The unusual wind patterns of the spring summer and fall made finding a calm sampling period challenging. Our volunteer water samplers only sample when lake conditions are safe.

Our Lake Partner Program volunteers include Jayne MacDonald and Tim Nash who take samples in McNally’s Bay, Brian and Diane Wilkinson who do Mulville’s Bay and Mason and Layla Cheikh, who have taken over for Colleen Holmes in Kanes Bay.

The Secchi disc shows water clarity

The results are sent in to the program and will be available to us after January 2020.

The water was quite clear for the entire season in McNally’s Bay this year. The Kanes Bay secchi disc readings showed an average of 6.0 meters over the season, also indicating very clear water. There was a report of some algae blooms near Kanes Bay but it didn’t seem to spread or cause a large problem. We were not able to get a reading in October on Kanes Bay because of inclement weather.

Sarah MacLeod-Neilson, the  Surface Water Quality Coordinator of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA), also does periodic water sampling throughout the spring, summer and fall. This data is sent to Jayne MacDonald for her analysis. Starting in 2020 the URLA will be providing a volunteer and a boat to assist the RVCA in their sampling of Upper Rideau Lake.

The Leeds, Grenville & Lanark Health Unit monitors recreational water quality at Foley Mountain Beach. Sampling season started on June 22 and ended September 3.  All sampling results for 2019 passed.


Our Hazard Buoys Program

Never drive your boat between 2 White Buoys on our lake!

 The White Hazard Buoys on our lake are owned by URLA and positioned and maintained by our volunteers. They are known as Private Buoys. They comply with all regulations, but are not seen on the Rideau Waterway Small-Craft Chart 1513 sheet 2 which includes Upper Rideau Lake. The hazards the URLA white buoys mark can be deduced by studying this chart.

Knowing where you are on the lake and on the chart is the only way to safely navigate. The Canadian Hydrographic Service Chart 1513 can be purchased at the Narrows Lockstation.  It includes 5 sheets that cover navigation from Smiths Falls to Kingston.

Every season I see  boats driving between our two private white  buoys at the Little Brothers shoal at the edge of Kanes Bay. The two green navigational buoys NW1 and NW3 by Second Island are maintained by Parks Canada and I have also spotted boats traveling between them.  If boaters are correctly following Chart 1513 they would know to avoid the Little Brothers area and to stay north of the two green buoys at Second Island.  This is the recommended route to and from Westport according to the chart, which is marked as a safe channel in red dashes.

The high water and wind made launching our 10 white hazard buoys before the opening of the Rideau Canal Locks (May 17) a challenge, first in locating them and then when attaching them to their anchors. Trying to locate a bunch of large rocks in a lake with my wife’s new boat was unnerving. Thanks to George Ingram’s GPS coordinates and a steady hand on the Garmin we found them and marked the anchor chains on Monday May 13. The lake was too rough to attach the buoy and weights to the anchor chain that day, so we put it off until a calmer time. We eventually got the buoys in position on May 17 at 10:00 AM just as the locks opened for the season. Not having the buoys marking the hazards on opening day could lead to potential harm to boats and crew.


George Ingram and Dennis Duncan load freshly cleaned and painted buoys onto
Dennis and Joan’s pontoon boat at their dock.

The crazy winds this summer were so strong they actually moved 3 buoys off their positions. Dennis Duncan reports each event to the Canadian Coast Guard ASAP so a “Notice to Shipping” can be sent out over VHF Marine radio to mariners. This information is also posted in the online Notice to Mariners website

adjustDavid McKinney and Trudy Counter recover a stray buoy in August.  It was back in position the next day.

Removal of the hazard buoys after the closing of the locks (the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving) presented similar hassles to the ones we had in the spring launch. The weather was fine Thanksgiving Day for pulling up the buoys, but they can’t come out until after Thanksgiving when the locks close. The lake was rough for the next few days. Many phone calls and messages were sent back and forth trying to decide when it was safe to remove them. On Thursday October 17 we finally pulled them out. It was still a bit rough and the wind picked up just as we lifted the last buoy.

When removing the Round Island buoys we noticed that the anchors were slightly off their mark and will have to be repositioned next spring. Once all the buoys are out, we clean them off and make repairs as required so they are ready for next spring’s launch.

URLA maintains 10 Hazard Buoys:

  • 6 in McNally’s Bay
  • 2 at Round Island
  • 2 over The Brothers shoal

Peter Newgard and sons-in-law Marc Robichaud and Paul Byrne maintain the buoys in McNally’s Bay. Dennis Duncan and Dave Counter maintain the others. When a buoy runs astray, any 2 of us can return it to  its anchor using GPS coordinates. This is only done when the lake permits safe working conditions.


Be safe when towing skiers, wakeboarders and tubes.

These activities should take place away from the main channels going to Westport, Newboro, or The Narrows. These routes can be congested and wake from boats and larger cruisers make it difficult to see a fallen tuber/skier. As well, the sudden U-turn of a ski boat can cause a cruiser to quickly change course. This combination of boats changing course and heavy wake leaves the skier in jeopardy.

Be safe out there when enjoying our lake!

14 people died in 13 accidents on Ontario waterways so far in 2019


If you have questions or comments contact:

Photo contest!


URLA Members:
Go through your photos of our lake in 2019 and submit your best to our contest.

Contest Rules:

  1. Photos must be from around our lake accompanied with a short description, the photographer’s name, and email address.
  2. Contest closes December 31/19. Winners will be contacted by email and prizes issued. Winning photos will be displayed at our 2020 AGM.
  3. Enter often. All photos will appear in our newsletters
  4. Send photos to:


 Gift Certificate Prizes of:

1st $50 | 2nd $30 | 3rd $20