Water levels on Big Rideau Lake change significantly during the season. BRLA installs and maintains 115 shoal markers to ensure all boaters a safe passage. Please remember: two shoal markers together identify the extent of a shoal - go around, NOT between!

Shoal Markers

The BRLA installs and maintains 115 Coast Guard-Approved shoal markers every season. These are shown on the charts of the Rideau Canal system, identified as "Private" markers. Boaters are reminded that the shoal markers are there to help prevent mishaps. All boaters should familiarize themselves with the location of the markers as they are sometimes difficult to see in rough weather. At night, please use special caution by reducing your speed, using a spotlight to locate the reflective markings, and proceeding with caution.

The 115 markers from Narrows Lock to Poonamalie Lock are maintained by a team of volunteers, under the direction of the Big Rideau Lake Safety Committee. After the Canal's closing in the fall (usually mid-October), the buoys are removed. They are then reinstalled by our volunteers in the spring. Boaters and cottagers are asked to contact the BRLA if they notice any marker missing, sinking, or being mis-used. Please remember that tampering with these buoys is a safety hazard.

Safe Boating Standards

All boats are required to carry safety equipment. What exactly must be carried depends on the type and size of boat (usually expressed in length from bow to stern.) All equipment should be checked regularly, be well maintained, and replaced if necessary.

The most important safety practice is the wearing of a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD). Depending on the nature of your boating activity, you can choose between the greater protection of a full lifejacket and the specialized comfort of a PFD. Recent advances in technology and design have produced a range of styles, colours, and performance options. There must be a Canadian approved lifejacket or PFD of the appropriate size for everyone on board. Almost 90% of the 180 Canadians (on average) who die every year in boating incidents were not properly wearing a lifejacket or PFD. Nearly 70% capsized or fell overboard from a small open boat. (2006/07 Canadian Red Cross 10-Year Drowning Report)

Transport Canada's Safe Boating Guide is a wealth of information about safe boating practices and guidelines, and required reading for all boaters. Refer to our Resources page for links to other helpful information about safe boating practices


There were a number of changes in 2013 related to mooring buoys on the Big Rideau. For your safety and that of other boaters on our lake, please be aware of the guidelines and rules.

Contact us at if you would like further information. If you have concerns about any boater's activities, please contact the OPP for assistance.