6,500 Canadians Needed New Homes!

English: The Welland Canal's Lock 7 at Thorold...
English: The Welland Canal’s Lock 7 at Thorold, Ontario. The Welland Canal is a ship canal in Canada, that runs 43,4 km (27.0 miles) from Port Colborne, Ontario on Lake Erie to Port Weller, Ontario on Lake Ontario. The canal is part of the St. Lawrence Seaway. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


An outstanding example of co-operation between Canada and the United States is the St. Lawrence Seaway, which was officially opened on June 26, 1959, by Queen Elizabeth for Canada, and President Eisenhower for the United States.

The St. Lawrence Seaway is a canal 191 miles long, enabling large ocean freighters to travel from the Atlantic to Lake Ontario and then continue to Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, using other canals that had already been built.  The Seaway is also an important source of electric power, generated by the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario and the Power Authority of the State of New York.

Canada had done a great deal of work on a seaway before the building of the present canal began in 1954.  The first canal past the Lachine Rapids above Montreal was built in 1700, and was enlarged in 1821.  About that time, Canada and the States began talking about building something bigger and better.  The Americans were never able to co-operate, and Canada kept enlarging the waterway through Lake Ontario.  By 1883, the canal had a depth of 14 feet.  Another integral part of the waterway through to Lake Erie was the Welland Canal, by-passing Niagara Falls.

In 1932, it looked as though the dream of attracting ocean-going ships into the Great Lakes was becoming a reality when Canada and the States signed the St. Lawrence Deep Waterway Treaty.  However, strong railway, shipping and other interests in the States opposed it, and the Senate would not pass the bill.

Finally, in 1952, Canada decided to “go it alone” and build a deep-water seaway entirely in Canadian territory.  This decision led Congress to take swift action and the Seaway was built as a joint venture.  As Canada had already spent millions of dollars on the St. Lawrence and Welland Canal, the States spent a larger share on the cost of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The control dam required by the power project flooded a large area between Cornwall and Iroquois, and necessitated the removal of entire communities.  New homes had to be provided for 6,500 people; 40 miles of the C.N.R. had to be rerouted, and Highway 2 relocated.  Many improvements were made, including the creation of Upper Canada Village in Crysler’s Farm Battlefield Park, now a popular tourist attraction.

To read more about the St. Lawrence Seaway, a few sites I suggest are the CBC Archives, with two particular subjects: the first is Queen opens St. Lawrence Seaway with U.S. President Eisenhower, and the second is Queen Elizabeth officially opens the St. Lawrence Seaway. I also suggest is Quebec’s There’s a Place for you in Engineering (a new site I found that kids would like), and Yahoo! Voices with an article written by Cherie Bowser. Still want more? I also suggest a great coverage at the Canadian Geographic Magazine, and then the Canadian Encyclopedia, as well as the Minnesota Sea Grant.And finally I would go to Legion Magazine for a great article, “The Lost Villages.”


  1. Glad to read of the cooperation between the countries (though I would have hated to be one of the 6500 people who needed to move thanks to the building process).


  2. Truly an amazing accomplishment. That sort of ‘nation building’ thinking is something we need more of today!

    Right now the infrastructure we really need more of is a digital one. With broadband fibre fairly readily available in Toronto, Ottawa and such our nation’s leaders are oblivious to the fact that in most parts of rural Canada DSL (which is by no means fast) is considered a luxury. They don’t realize it gets even worse when you look at it–that DSL and Cable are, now, what dial-up was just a few years back–specifically a means to get the basic information in a pinch but nowhere near enough to provide what people need.

    Only fibre holds the hope of providing speed that will withstand the next 20 or so years of growth in digital consumption. The often-touted 4th-generation wifi and cell that is touted as the saviour to the rural areas is a stopgap at best. Besides–the towers are not that fond of the 20-50 tonnes of ice that builds up on them in the winters in Canada’s north.

    In the north there’s not a fibre to be seen. Satellites, which hardly provide what slower DSL could do 10 years ago are the staple. With the satellites parked above the equater the look-angle to the satellite is very low. Hills and trees block the signal for many users and it is always susceptible to snow and rain fade.

    Until it happens only our people in the urban areas will truly be 21st century citizens.

    Besides–building a broadband network won’t require people’s homes to be expropriated :>)


  3. I wanted to take a couple of minutes and tell you I am new to your site and I am really enjoying it. Blessings on your day. Belinda. I was born in Newfoundland and really enjoyed your last post. I look forward to working my way back through archives as health and time permit. Smiles


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