Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Breaking Up Ice On The River

When I went out to New Edinburgh in February, my first shots of the day were those that follow today and tomorrow. This is the east channel of the Rideau River, looking south, just upstream from the Rideau Falls. I was on Sussex Drive where it crossed the river. Over to the left is New Edinburgh. To the right is Green Island. The river meets its end here, breaking up into two channels around Green Island and spilling into the Ottawa River. On the south side of Sussex Drive, the island is occupied by the John Diefenbaker Building. Along with the Lester Pearson Building over on the west side of the river, the two buildings, named after former prime ministers, house the headquarters of our foreign ministry.

You might notice in this shot that there are people on the ice at the end of this open channel by those bridges. There's a good reason for that.

Crossing the street, I took in this view of the end of the river. Both branches of the falls have dams and walkways behind them, and maintenance work was being done on both of the walkways, so they were closed. Ice floes were headed towards the open portion of the spillway here on the east branch, headed for the Ottawa River, still frozen in the background.

There is a viewing platform on the east side of the falls, which I'll show tomorrow. Here we have a view of the frozen Ottawa River, with Gatineau over on the other side.

The far shore as seen here gives us Leamy Lake Park, the woodland park I went through last summer. The Gatineau River comes through several channels in that park, meeting the Ottawa River, so this area serves as the meeting place of three major rivers. For thousands of years pre-contact, this area was well known and well used by First Nations peoples. Samuel de Champlain came up the Ottawa River for the first time in 1613. The Rideau, falls and river, is from a French word- it means curtain- an apt term for what Champlain and his expedition would have seen from the base of the falls.

Looking back to the west, at the left of this shot, open water can be seen on the left, at the base of the falls.

I mentioned that there was a good reason there were people on the ice in the first shot. When I arrived around Green Island, there was a notice on the sidewalk about blasting ahead, and I could hear muffled bangs, so I knew what was going on. I went down to the bridge you can see in that first shot and took these. The ice on the Rideau River is blasted each year, starting in the second half of February. This is a preventative measure to alleviate flooding along its length, and given that this is where the river ends, that weekend had probably been when they were getting started on it. In this shot looking southwest from one of those bridges in the first shot, you can see vehicles and cut lines in the ice closer to the bridge. Crews were working on cutting sections, and their work included detonating the ice. Parliament Hill's spires can be seen in the background.

This view on the other side of the bridge includes two crew members on the ice near the open water. Others were closer to the bridge. I should have photographed that, but didn't- I noticed the ice was moving beneath their feet as they moved from slab to slab. Would that be something you'd be inclined to want to do?


  1. Well, I'm glad you explained that. It appears to be somewhat dangerous work. Great shots here, William. What a wonderful bunch of rivers you have!

  2. Blasting ice! I did not know that was an occupation. ;-)

  3. Interesting ! but it looks very cold !

  4. Interesting to see how the works are done.

  5. I admire people who know just what ice will tolerate.


  6. Scary stuff. Common in Newfoundland though. It’s called copying, jumping from pan tp pan of ice in the harbours and bays in the spring

  7. ( ; iceberg ... watch out!! make me think of the Titanic.

  8. @Lowell: I wouldn't do it!

    @Linda: I expect they do regular city work through the year, and this just happens to be part of their duties.

    @Gattina: you wouldn't want to fall in that!

    @Marianne: it is. I've always heard about it being started in the newspapers, but never actually saw the work itself being done before.

    @Janis: they have to be very careful.

    @Marie: that doesn't surprise me.

    @Beth: I can see that.

    @Tom: yes, even if it was a month ahead of spring.

  9. Spring and breakup can be exciting. I guess they''re trying to lessen the excitement and possible damage.

  10. I wouldn't take the risk of stepping on the ice in those conditions.

  11. There is no way you would find me out there "riding" on the ice. I have a hard enough time on solid ground! ;-)

  12. Haha, I don't think I wanna be one of those crew members to work on moving ice :-)

  13. @Francisco: thank you!

    @Red: it helps to get this done, free up the river of ice.

    @Marleen: I certainly would not do it.

    @Sharon: they seemed quite at home.

    @Tamago: I'm sure they knew what they were doing, so they were welcome to it.

  14. There is no way I would be walking out there, William!
    Do you know what has happened to RevRunner and his blog?

  15. Blasting ice ... wow!
    Doesn't just looking at ice make you feel cold.

    Seeing RedPat's comment above, I too was wondering about RevRunner?

    Take Care

    All the best Jan

  16. It must be dangerous work! The things I learn from blogs! Very informative!

  17. Blowing up ice, I never heard of it. That does seem like very dangerous work.

  18. Fascinating post and photos ~ well done

    Happy Days to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  19. @RedPat: I had wondered if he'd gone off on vacation, but then noticed his blog was not in my blogroll, or open. I don't know if it's been taken private or something else, but I know he's still around, as he's on Twitter, and posts most days.

    @Jan: check my answer above.

    @Christine: it must take great care.

    @Bill: usually when I hear about it, it's in the papers and already done.

    @Carol: thank you!

    1. Re: Revrunner.
      Thanks for your reply William, at least he's still around.

      All the best Jan

  20. You couldn't get me anywhere near that ice on open water! I don't know if they're brave or stupid!

  21. Blasting is a good protective measure. No way would I go on ice that was moving on water. Brave souls.

  22. Walking on that ice?! Some jobs are quite dangerous.

  23. I like to see the ice disappearing but not beneath my feet!

  24. So what might that job be called? Ice bombardier? That whole operation looks as precarious as loggers jumping around on logs in moving water.

  25. Sparkling skies and amazing people

  26. As kids we were breaking the ice in the ponds in our neigbourhood by running over and jumping on the ice. I remember getting some wet feet and even a wet pair of jeans once.
    But I think this ice is somewhat thicker and the water is streaming fast in the river.

  27. I don't think I would! I have a horrid startle reflex. Hubby has to warn me when he used the dustbuster!!!
    I wouldn't mind watching, though.

    We saw folks ice fishing near Gananoque Monday. I was a bit surprised! I think I'm posting that tomorrow. I think. :-)
    P.S. My brother works in a fly-in mine in N. Ontario. He blows stuff up underground.

  28. Very interesting! Do people ever have to be rescued after breaking through?

  29. You really are part polar bear!

  30. I hope you'll get spring soon.

  31. @Jeanie: I missed photographing it this year.

    @Mari: it takes great care.

    @Catarina: you don't want to make mistakes.

    @Catalyst: it's quite something to see in person.

    @Kay: I can see that.

    @Cloudia: thank you!

    @Jan: yes, this you have to be more careful with.

    @Jennifer: it's something that does draw attention.

    @Pat: I'm sure it happens at some point. They probably rig safety lines over the surface downstream to be grabbed by someone who falls in, and these guys are probably in wet suits under their clothing.

    @Norma: I am!

    @Klara: spring can wait.