Fred Ayea (1949 – 2013)
Friend, colleague, mentor, business partner, Fred Alyea passed away suddenly on June 12, 2013. We will miss your professionalism, hard work and wonderful wit. Thank you for those many years of memories.


Partner - The Canals Group

David graduated from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelors of Arts in history. During his career with Parks Canada he had a series of positions on canals and in national parks including Canal Area Manager, Superintendent, and  Director of Operations.  

As the Director of Operations for the Rideau Canal National Historic Site he had overall responsibilities for the lock operations and maintenance, navigation, water control, including the reservoir lake management, realty/land management, visitor activities and services and the natural resource conservation sections of the Canal.


In 1992 he received the Confederation of Canada 125th Anniversary Commemorative medal "in recognition of signifigant contribution to compatriots, community and to Canada".

David was the Parks Canada representative on numerous operational, navigational, land use or water supply and watershed studies which impacted or were of concern to Parks Canada throughout the Rideau Canal corridor and elsewhere. This usually meant representing Parks Canada mandate, interests and issues working with other levels of government and stakeholders. The work included being a member of steering committees and/or technical committees for studies such as the Lower Rideau Watershed and Tay River Watershed. David represented the interests of Parks Canada dealing with the restoration of older bridges and the design and building of new bridges owned by others, such as the City of Ottawa. The concerns he represented as a member of the design team related to the appropriateness, location and scale of the proposed bridge, along with a design that would be sympathetic to the cultural and natural context of an Historic Canal, and now a World Heritage Site.

In addition, he lead or played a key role in a number of large and nationally important Parks Canada studies on the mandate, organizational structure and needed efficiencies of the historic canals in order to continue a reasonable level of service while at the same time meeting the financial reality of the moment. David was involved at a local level where the work has been more canal, organization or function specific, including more recent operational and organizational reviews.

He was one of the Canal contacts during the managment plan processes for the Rideau Canal management plan during that time. The process included working with focus groups, stakeholders, special interest groups, residents, users and the general public to identify and outline the issues and possible solutions, inputting and reviewing the drafts and being a key part of the public consultation when the draft plan was presented for formal consultation and feedback.

In his capacity with Parks Canada and as president of Inland Waterways International he has been able to work on a professional basis with many peers and associates at various waterways and canals in North America, the U.K., Europe and China. David has been involved with the World Canals Conference over many years. He has been on the Steering Committees of many World Canals Conferences. He is a member of Council of Inland Waterways International and is presently the Past President.

As a partner in The Canals Group, David has been involved in various contracts in North America, U.K. Europe. He acts as an advisor to he World Historic and Cultural Canal Cities Cooperation Organization (WCCO), Yangzhou, China. He has been granted the honorary title of "Distinguished Guest of Yangzhou City", China for work done on behalf of Inland Waterways International with the WCCO.


Thomas Grasso Partner - The Canals Group/ Erie Canal Consulting
(1940 - 2022)

Friend, Colleague, Canal Historian, Business Partner. Tom passed away on June 6,2022. We will miss Tom's friendship, infectious laugh, great sense of humour, hospitality and invaluable canal knowledge. Thanks for all of that.  




Partner - The Canals Group


Dave MacDougall is a founding partner of The Canals Group, a registered partnership formed in 2007 to provide professional services in strategic and operational planning, operational reviews, public consultation and visitor program and facility planning.  Dave’s work in the private sector was preceded by a 34-year management career with Parks Canada in national parks, national historic sites and 24 years in the historic canals program in Canada focusing on management of both operations and external relations programs.


Dave’s career with Parks Canada provided a solid base for his role with The Canals Group.  With Parks Canada, Dave managed programs in operations, communications and external relations.  In an operational capacity he had responsibility for the protection of natural and cultural resources, the operation and maintenance of locks and dams, water management, staff and financial resources.  In the area of communications and external relations he applied his operations knowledge and experience to ground his management, development and delivery of programs and services to engage Canadians, visitors and stakeholders.  Dave represented management on multidisciplinary teams that developed public consultation and communications strategies where public consultation and engagement with the local community was vital to success. 


It was a seamless transition for Dave from canal manager to business partner.  On a national and international level he has continued the development and maintenance of a network of professionals who share knowledge and expertise on the operation and management of historic canals and protected heritage areas and their influence on their countries. As both a business person and volunteer he successfully works at growing the international recognition of protected heritage areas and the management and positioning of waterways and canals as major international tourism destinations and economic drivers in their countries.  As well as in the international boardroom Dave is equally at home while dealing with local stakeholders and staff of protected heritage areas.


Dave is a long-serving member of Council for Inland Waterways International and in 2016 completed his term as Secretary.  As a volunteer member of Council he actively supports its role to bring together people and organizations who support the conservation, use, development and proper management of inland waterways worldwide.  He is a regular attendee of the World Canals Conference and often participates in its program as presenter and session moderator.


In 2016 Dave was appointed to the World Historic and Cultural Canal Cities Cooperation Organization (WCCO) Expert Committee.  The organization, with its Secretariat in Yangzhou China, focuses on promoting economic and cultural development between canals cities, sharing in development experience and facilitating mutually beneficial cooperation and common prosperity. 


Dave continues to be active in his community through involvement in volunteer organizations and sports, supporting wellness and participation to improve the quality of life locally.







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