Colonel By Day

Painting by C.W. Jeffreys depicting Colonel John By on site during construction.

Lieutenant Colonel John By supervised the construction of Ottawa’s Rideau Canal and had a major influence on its design. Canal construction began in 1828 and involved some 6,000 workers at multiple sites along its 202 km route. The full length was navigable by 1832 and today, the Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Colonel By Day takes place on the holiday Monday in August each year, close to the Colonel's birth date of August 7, 1779. This popular summer event named in Colonel By's honour celebrates Ottawa’s history and heritage with open air events, walking tours and a host of family friendly, heritage-themed activities. See blacksmithing, lace making and musketry demonstrations, or take a birch bark canoe ride along the Rideau Canal. The event is part of Bytown Days, which this year takes place from July 30 to August 1, 2016.

The next Colonel By Day takes place on the Civic Holiday Monday, August 1, 2016 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, at the entrance locks to the Rideau Canal beside the Bytown Museum, just west of the Chateau Laurier.

Festivities begin at 11:00 am with an opening procession. Live entertainment will be presented throughout the day, with performances by local musicians, dancers and other costumed characters along with other activities. Admission to the Bytown Museum will be free from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Representatvies from some 30 local heritage organizations, including Heritage Ottawa, will be on hand at the exhibitors area. Drop by and say hello!

For more information about Colonel By Day and Bytown Days, visit


Join us on Sunday, July 31, 2016  at 2:00 pm for a Rideau Canal Walking Tour led by Heritage Ottawa President David Jeanes.