Opening the doors to a hidden gem: Chaudière Falls

Summer is almost here and Ottawa threw up the shades once again to let sunlight and people in for the 2024 edition of Doors Open Ottawa.

This year marked the 22nd anniversary of the annual event held by the City of Ottawa in celebration of the city’s culture, architecture and history. Every year, Doors Open Ottawa provides the public with complimentary access to catch a glimpse of the inner workings of some of the city’s most iconic and historically significant landmarks. For the first time since 2018, Hydro Ottawa was back as a prominent destination in Doors Open Ottawa, showcasing the breathtaking Chaudière Falls park and its stunning views of the Ottawa River. Significant flooding and the pandemic had restricted our participation for the past number of years. 

“Chaudière Falls is kind of like a hidden gem,” said Reg Surett, a participant of Doors Open Ottawa. “It’s super powerful and it’s kind of unassuming because it’s tucked away.”

Located on traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe People, Chaudière Falls is home to six hydroelectric facilities that harness the power of the river’s natural flow, to generate clean electricity.

While the site was acquired by Hydro Ottawa in 2012, Chaudière Falls has been providing water power for lumber mills and factories on the Ottawa River since the mid-1800s. The Ring Dam, which regulates the flow of water through Chaudière Falls, was built in the early 1900s and has been staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year since then.

Doors Open Ottawa view of Chaudiere Falls

In 2017, a new five-story powerhouse generating station was built with enough generating power to supply electricity to 20,000 homes in Ottawa, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 115,000 tonnes a year - the equivalent of removing more than 24,000 cars from the road. 

As a company, Hydro Ottawa is committed to protecting the environment and reducing our local carbon footprint to ensure a better future for our community. One of the goals of the site is to produce clean, renewable energy in an environmentally responsible way and ensure that any wildlife is protected. 

As part of the new facility’s design, safe eel passages were created to protect American eel migrating through the Ottawa River from the Sargasso Sea, in the Atlantic Ocean. The bypass allows the endangered species to safely pass through our hydroelectric dams, increasing eel survival rates from 80 per cent to 99 per cent. 

Chaudière Falls also has a vibrant community park that was designed with the Algonquins of Ontario. The falls was a sacred meeting place for Algonquin Peoples from across North America to communicate, govern, and perform ceremonies. The park reflects rich Indigenous culture and history, and has many species of trees and plants that have sacred and traditional uses,  including sage, sweetgrass and juniper.

Portes ouvertes Ottawa
Portes ouvertes Ottawa

Since Hydro Ottawa is a company that “gives where it lives”, we are committed to supporting and connecting with the local community. Doors Open Ottawa gives us the chance to give back to our community by sharing some of our favourtie parts of one of Ottawa’s most stunning landmarks.

On Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2 2024, Hydro Ottawa partnered with one of our affiliates, Portage Power, to host a series of guided walking tours for the community.

The event brought close to 1,000 people to Chaudière Falls from all across the city to participate in guided and self-guided tours that highlighted some of the most historic and interesting parts of the site.

With the help of dozens of dedicated Hydro Ottawa employees, we were able to showcase the beauty of the park, tell tales of the fascinating history of Ottawa's industrial past, and share information about the environmentally friendly electricity that is generated through our run-of-the-river hydroelectric facilities.

“I feel like learning the history makes me appreciate it that much more and realize what a gem this is to have in our city,” said Nancy McLaren Kennedy, who participated in one of the guided tours on Saturday with her partner and two daughters.

Starting at 10:00 a.m. and continuing every 15 minutes until the doors closed, tour guides led groups of visitors around the site, giving people the opportunity to see some of the most interesting aspects up close.

The tours included stops at a variety of points of interest and included in-depth discussions by knowledgeable staff. This included conversations about Indigenous history and tales of early exploration, the new below-grade hydro facility, the rich heritage of the area including elements of the city’s industrial past that remain today, and Chaudière Falls itself.

Portes ouvertes Ottawa


Alex D’aoust and his partner live around the corner from Chaudière Falls and were really excited to learn about the history of the site that they walk through almost daily. 

“I like that now when we have guests over we have something to talk about, and we can show them the history behind the falls,” D’aoust said.

Much like D’aoust, Feddrico Arellano lives and works near Chaudière Falls and spends time in the park every week. 

“When I saw the signs I said ‘it’s awesome if I can get a bit of an explanation of something that I walk by everyday’,” Arellano said. “This experience has been amazing, I loved it!” 

While the City of Ottawa has now closed its doors on Doors Open Ottawa for the year, the park at Chaudière Falls, at 4 Booth Street, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - so we welcome you to come and explore one of Ottawa’s most stunning and historic community gems.

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