The boating season begins today on the Rideau Canal.

The 202-kilometre historic waterway runs from Ottawa to Kingston, Ont., with 29 individual locks and facilities along the route.

"We're waiting for this," boater Louise Letarte said while getting the boat ready at Hurst Marina. "It's kind of like freedom."

Luc Belec described the opening of the Rideau Canal as "a sign of summer."

"We have lots of friends who do the same thing as us."

Hours of operation at the lockstations are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday to Sunday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday until June 19.  Starting June 20, lockstations will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday to Sunday and on holidays.

"Being with other boaters, people on their boats are generally happy people," boater Bill VanVeen said.

The Hurst Marina is expecting a busy year.

"The marina is sold out, we don't have any slips available," said Mark Hurst of Hurst Marina. "Gas dock is open, the pump-out is open. We have full staff, it's business as usual."

Parks Canada is asking all visitors (boaters and land-based) to adhere to the following rules:

Lockage: Boaters are expected to be in full care and control of their vessels and maintain two metres distance from staff and other boaters at all times during lockage.

Masks: Parks Canada says mask use is encouraged for visitors in situations where they will be within two metres of staff and other visitors. Masks are encouraged for the public's use of washrooms at lockstations and during sales transactions

Cashless payment: Parks Canada asks boaters to make cashless payments for permit purchases.

Share the Waterway: "There are many new boaters on the waterway. Enjoy your experience on the waterway but also please always be cautious, courteous and safe," Parks Canada said.

High water

Parks Canada is warning boaters to watch out for high water during the opening weekend on the Rideau Canal.

"Recent rain events have prompted Parks Canada to anticipate potentially dangerous water flows and fast moving currents throughout much of the Rideau and Cataraqui Watersheds," Parks Canada said.

"The public is advised to exercise caution on or along the waterway and to avoid water control structures such as dams, spillways and locks."