Please feel free to contribute reports and photos.

29 March, 2017

Tony Izatt reports from the shore of Newboro Lake:

I watched two guys come off the ice last evening, both wearing survival suits and dragging their ice sleighs behind them, an ice auger in one and fishing supplies in the other.


28 March, 2017

Conrad Watters sent along some Big Rideau pix taken on 18 March, 2017.  See commentary below.


Rod, greetings,  Buzz mentioned that you might like our observations on ice this March.
We traversed from MacDonald Island to Jerry Island on about 4 March on black ice ? > 1 ft thick.
The usual pressure ridge runs parallel to our shore and to the shoal. This year it ran perpendicular and into our boat house, resulting in major bowing of the steel beams and twisting of the north crib. Shoal top is normally exposed but this year it was under the ice …. never seen like this before. The ice was almost as high as in spring flood. An open stretch, 25-?50′, of water joined south Jerry to south Cow to Big Is….again ? Unique ? Associated with high water ice tension from high water.
I flew over Big Rideau on 18 March and one can see the large amount of open water….Twin, Jerry, Cow, Big islands.

27 March, 2017

Still flummoxed about the open area across the middle of the Big Rideau while the other ice remains solid, this afternoon I asked Portland resident and retired wildlife biologist Buzz Boles what might have produced it.

With climate change, everything is changing with water, particularly big bodies of water.  It should come as no surprise that the Big Rideau Lake is changing its pattern of freezes and thaws.  The same thing is happening everywhere else:  unusual patterns are developing.

The Innuit of Labrador and the Arctic are advising their young people not to listen to the old folks any more as to where they can go safely on the ice because none of the ice can be trusted any more  because of changing freeze and thaw patterns from climate change.

Buzz is one of the authors of How the Lake Works, a series of essays on the Big Rideau Lake which will be released in April.

25 March, 2017

For the past few days I’ve suspected it, but today it was obvious from Portland:  a wide band of open water has stretched across the southern part of the triangle which makes up the Big Rideau.  I’ve never seen a fault of this magnitude in Big Rideau ice before.  If anyone has any photos or history of early openings like this, please contribute your experience here.

The ice on Otter Lake, on the other hand, appears intact.

24 March, 2017

We ran into hazardous driving conditions today on back county roads this morning.  Slush soaked with rain just at the freezing point produces grease.

22 March, 2017

Yesterday was the perfect sugar-making day:  cold at daybreak, rapidly warming up, sunny.  But then at 10:00 p.m. an icy north wind blew into the open end of the sugar house  and the temperature dropped.  By this morning the buckets, half-full or more, were frozen solid.  Today was a bone chiller.  My apologies to all returned Snowbirds.

BTW:  The cold nights will not make the ice stronger (except in my sap buckets) at this time of year.  It’s rotting from below.

20 March, 2017

I caught my first splake of the year while casting from shore.  Nice fish, a 24″ male.  See post to the left for more fishing details.

17 March, 2017

Tony Izatt reported 12″ of ice off his inner dock where he drilled to put his bubbler in today.

This was the Kingston Waterfront off the Martello Tower at about 11:00 a.m.  The ice had refrozen, with only patches of water showing through.  Google Photos automatically creates these things, but I think this one is pretty good.

15 March, 2017

Three hours on the tractor for snow removal today.  Plans cancelled because of driving conditions.

Sugar making begins Friday, according to those-younger-than-me whose enthusiasm pushes huge masses of obstructions out of the way, rather in the manner of a snowplow.

14 March, 2017

CBC:  6:38 p.m.  At 2:00 p.m. today a near whiteout on Hwy 401 led to a 30-vehicle pileup between Lansdowne and Mallorytown (east of Kingston, west of Brockville), sending at least 18 to hospital and the closing of both sides of the busy highway.  Fluorosilicic acid spilled from one of the trucks, so the area has become a hazmat site.

12 March, 2017

11 March, 11:31


Rideau Lakes Councillor  Doug Good and Mike Carty  are missing after a woodcutting expedition yesterday to Cow Island on the Big Rideau.  No bodies have been recovered as of 12:30 today.

Mrs. Good confirmed the report to Portland resident Bruce Boles.

UPDATE  (3rd hand) 7:17 P.M.

Divers went down at 2:30 this afternoon and “found debris.”


Don’t trust the ice at this time of year, no matter how thick it appears to be.  When ice fails it can form vertical crystals and the bonds between them gradually fail.  Once I watched 9″ ice in my swimming pool turn to tinkling drinking straws over about ten minutes on a sunny day.

9 March, 2017

Beware the ides of March!  As of 12:00 a.m., March 16, 2017, I will accept no more entries to this year’s Annual Ice-out Competition.

8 March, 2017, 4:13 a.m.

While carrying a can of diesel to the generator at 3:00 this morning I found myself sinking into the gravel of our driveway.  Things thawed rapidly overnight in the rain — during a power outage from a pole fire in Forfar.  About 400 customers were affected.  Lights went back on quite smoothly at 3:40.

2 March, 2017

John Lee reports:

Just at the township Dock.

Still 18 in of solid ice at the end, did a test hole.

Ramp is thin ice but will freeze up in the next few days.

Cursty snow on surface.

No sign of anyone on the lake lately.


Only an Argo owner would be pleased by ice like the photo at the launch. – Rod


This shot appeared one minute after I posted the comment above. Rod

Deadline’s March 15th for the annual Ice-Out Contest.  Details of the competition are on the left side of this page, appropriately titled, if you scroll down a bit.  All entries must be made as comments on that post.  None added to this page will count.

You know the drill.  Good luck.

The weather?  The temp dropped from 61 F at 1:30 this morning to 13 F at 6:30.  A dusting of snow accompanied the shift.

26 February, 2017

Information about the waterway in the area gleaned from a short afternoon drive:

Narrows Lock is under construction.  Many geese are afloat.

The ferry at the Isthmus shows all signs of continuous use over the winter.  It’s floating high: the gravel indentations show a rise of two to three inches since its last use.

At Chaffey’s the canal is wide open, but the ice is not far out from the Bridge on Indian.  On the Opinicon side, ice is clear as far as the large green buoy on the way to Davis.

It appears the Opinicon Pool has moved to the side hill below the dining room.  New docks are also in evidence in the attached photo album.

21 February, 2017

The single pair of deep car tracks out onto the Big Rideau at Portland suggested considerable slush on the ice surface.

19 February, 2017

Bellamy Lake today had watered up.  I noticed two ice fishermen on the lake, but no vehicles.

17 February, 2017

So far this week it’s been cold enough for good ice.  Has anyone noticed slush on the lake yet?

12 February, 2017

John Lee reports:

The snow is falling hard on Newboro Lake.

There was already about 3-4 in of power on the lake from Friday night’s fall, so this should add to the fun for the Family Day Weekend Festival next week.

I did a test hole and there is almost 2 feet of ice, so this snow accumulation should not sag the ice too much, and hopefully we won’t get a lot of slush on the lake.

5 February, 2017

Nothing much new here other than growing ice, good 14-16 inches of ice on Newboro Lake in front of the township dock, may be 1 inch of crusty snow on top of that.

Hoping this week bring a good dump of snow so I can justify to my wife the buying of the Argo last year


Still only one Fishing Shack out on the lake but seen a number of trucks out fishing.

On Sat there was a swarm, flock, gaggle?? of snowmobiles, at least 15 all sitting on the lake drinking “POP” I am sure, they came via the road and not the usual trail.


We have been told there is no winter carnival or Ice fishing Derby on the lake this year so will have to make our own fun for family day, we are expecting around 20+ people between 3 or 4 cottages on McCaskill for the weekend

Hope to have hockey, curling, and may be some Ice Golf.

John R Lee

Very cool toy, John.  I hope you keep us posted on its adventures over the winter.  Rod

4 February, 2017

Any news?  There’s still very little snow.  Rather than the snowmobile, my little tractor has been the toy of choice around the farm.  I’ve hauled brush in spare time over the last two weeks.  Today I discovered why farmers don’t burn pine boughs at this time of year:  they won’t.  I guess I’ll have to wait for them to dry.

27 January, 2017

Tom Stutzman sent a link to a video where two Finns experiment with hot steel on a frozen lake.  They get a big kick out of it.  Canadians aren’t the only people who geek out on ice, I guess.

22 January, 2017

1000-word photo:  Scott Island Ferry, 9:00 a.m. today


The current has opened the ice all the way to the east shore of Indian Lake.  Lake surface is a mixture of hard ice and puddles.

Not to belabour an obvious point, but if anyone plans to travel further than the nearest island, consider the above photo with ice-free ferry navigation over the report below of a foot of ice in calm, sheltered water.  You cannot predict the ice in this weather.

John Lee reported at 2:12 p.m.

Lots of puddles on Newboro. Drilled the water hole and found 12 in of ice.

Bit of excitement Sunday morning at the township dock: ambulance, fire and police. They mulled about for 10min, then some guy on an ATV drove across the lake and talked, but in the end they left. 

Fishermen are out fishing. First hut on the lake this season.


16 January, 2017

Beau B. Laming just posted a video on FB Newboro of a Chev pickup with about 600 bd ft of lumber on a trailer out on Newboro Lake.  Evidently winter shipping season has begun.

15 January, 2017

Mark Moyle reported skaters at large around McCaskill Island.  There’s a video on the Newboro FB page showing someone in a small car hooning on the glare ice.  I’ll wait a bit yet.  Ruby weighs 5380 pounds dry.  16″ of hard ice seems about right.

REMEMBER:  No seat belts and windows down when driving on the lake.  Those precautions improve your chances by a couple of percent…

I’ve received two reports of Great Gray Owls in the Chaffey’s Locks vicinity.

You know those big scary bubbles under the ice?  Has anybody ever drilled a hole, inserted a tube and lit it?  Is it methane down there?

Conditions for firewood cut-and-haul couldn’t get much better than today’s.

14 January, 2017

John Lee reports:

Cloudy and -10c

Drilled about 11 in of ice this morning

Lake is shear ice, no snow cap

A few ice fishermen on the lake.

John also reported a car on the lake at dusk.

11 January, 2017

When I drove through Chaffey’s Locks last week, the canal was wide open.  A good flow over the dam provided open water for the trumpeter swans below.  With the thaw today I’d think current in the usual locations could weaken ice which had been strong a few days ago.  Just because there’s ten inches of ice in one location doesn’t mean there won’t be four inches in another, so be careful out there.

10 January, 2017

At a gathering in Forfar today Big Rideau resident Grant Stone told me that the lake did freeze over on Saturday morning, January 7th, 2017.

8 January, 2017

Today I approached a group on Upper Rock Lake.  I saw one small splake flopping above 8″ of ice.

Pete Frye reports:

Update on ice at Grass Point, Newboro Lake.
Between 11 – 12 inches at the marker.

7 January, 2017

John Lee reported at 9:24 a.m.

Newboro Lake is clear rough ice with at least 9-10 inch of solid black ice measured Sat morning 09:00hrs.  No fishing huts on the lake yet.  Lots of snowmobile and foot traffic tacks and saw some fishermen last evening when we got here.

Otter Lake has just frozen over.  From a distance the Big Rideau seemed either frozen or mill-pond calm today at mid-day.

5 January, 2017  

In a supermarket in Smiths falls today I ran into a local ice fisherman.  He told me there’s 5″ of good ice on the Lower Rideau now at Knowles Point, but he doesn’t walk out onto the lakes until it’s thicker than 6″.

1 January, 2017

Castaway John reported at 5:30 p.m.

Lots of activity on Newboro Lake this afternoon, snowmobiles, ice fishermen and another couple heading over for an overnighter on the Island.

And some one parked in the dark at the Parks Canada Parking lot, must be watching the submarine races.


Pete’s flag pole reports the first snowmobile track of the season, laid down sometime yesterday afternoon.  I hope the operator made it to his destination.

31 December, 2016  12:00 p.m.

McCaskill Island castaway John Lee reports:

Drilled a hole in the middle of the lake off the township docks and showed 6-7 inch solid ice.  Still no ice fishing traffic on the lake, surprised!!  A few drive-bys at the township dock.

30 December, 2016

John Lee further reported at 9:00 a.m.:

Lochview Cottage is open for the winter season. All is well.  No other signs of either foot traffic or snowmobiles yet, but I’m sure there will be some ice fisherpeople out this weekend, maybe snowmobiles.

Rod Croskery commented at 3:42 p.m.:

As I recall, Otter Lake ice has neither progressed nor regressed over the last week.  It’s still about half of the lake surface visible from the highway.

Viewed from the road which joins Philipsville and Toledo, Bellamy Lake now sports a couple of ice shacks.

29 December, 2016

John Lee reported at 4:00 p.m.

There is a good 5-6 in solid ice from the Township Dock to McCaskill island. I drilled 6 pilot holes.
2 in of fresh snow on top with no water or slush.
Temperature is about  -2 at 16:00hrs 29 Dec
No other signs of either foot traffic or snowmobiles yet.
Will report when I see anything.
27 December, 2016


Peter Frey reported at 11:18 a.m.

Lake is looking nasty.  Some large openings from where last night’s heavy rains ran through the ice.  I suppose it will refreeze tonight.  

22 December, 2016

At 9:20 a.m. I observed a dry ice surface under 4″ of snow.  A ridiculously picturesque morning.


At 10:37 a.m. John Lee reported what everyone wants to know:  “At the end of the township dock is 4 inches of solid black ice with 2 inches of soft ice on top. There’s no sign of vehicles  on the lake.”

At 2:07 p.m. Bill Polimenakos asked:  “Pretty good [report].  Do you think [the ice] will hold up through the warmer days we’re having ?”

21 December, 2016

This shot of Big Rideau Lake from just outside Portland only hints at the open area beyond the ring of islands.  Conspicuous is the lack of tracks on any lake access point I examined today.

Otter Lake has a large centre area still open.  It’s often late to freeze over.

Newboro Lake launch ramps are still free of tracks, except for foot prints out to check the ice.

20 December, 2016

Chaffey’s Locks Rocks on Facebook is all atwitter over the prospect of a skating rink on the canal opposite Brown’s Marina.

As Dave Brown commented, “It’s not that it’s that cold here, it’s that the near drought conditions in the summer means there’s no extra water running to keep the canal clear. There have been very few times this has occurred in the 40 years I’ve lived here.”

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18 December, 2016

Dave Grummett reports a solid 6″ of ice, 50′ offshore on the Lower Rideau Lake, across from Briggs island in 5′ of water.

Good to hear from you, Dave.

17 December, 2016
Hi Rod
I have 5.5 inches of ice at about thirty feet out from the point.  There was an open spot further out the other day after the winds but it has since frozen over.
Pete Frey

Grass Point Marker, Newboro Lake


16 December, 2016

After the deep cold of last night there’s a good chance the ice will have thickened considerably.  Readers today are likely looking at the feasibility of a weekend jaunt on the lake.

8:43 a.m.  John Lee sent along the following photo dated December 15th, the day before last night’s big freeze:


14 December, 2016

1:54 p.m.

I talked with Newboro resident Ed Corkey at the end of the municipal dock this afternoon.  He reported 3″ of ice and predicted: “The kids should be able to have their rink between the docks by the weekend.”


The view of Loborough Lake from the road showed the right hand side with a wide-open area down the lake, but to my left the quieter bay on the other side of the bridge was securely covered.  On Buck Lake the whole right side was wide open, but frozen on the left.

As usual, water depth and wind impede the freezing process, but I wasn’t able to find any open water on Newboro Lake in a casual glance from Hwy. 42.

12 December, 2016

John and Maggie have been agitating for weeks.  Tony reported Friday that Newboro Harbour has yet again frozen over.  Saturday, Bellamy Lake’s surface became an uninterrupted, glassy plane.  Last night our new grand-daughter slept through a snowy seven-hour journey from Burlington to Ottawa, so I guess winter has arrived.

Welcome back.


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