St. Lawrence Seaway

St. Lawrence Seaway

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The St. A complex series of locks, canals, and waterways, it provides a link between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.While the ultimate version of the seaway was constructed in the mid-20th century, its origins can be traced back to the 17th century, when the French attempted to build a canal to bypass the rapids at Lachine near Montreal, Quebec. Lawrence Seaway.While many individual locks and canals permitted waterborne traffic to transit between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic, the St. No action, however, was taken until well past the end of World War II because of opposition from groups in the United States and the attack on Pearl Harbor. Lawrence River was closed to traffic during the war.After the war, more challenges forced the delay of construction until 1954. Construction required a considerable amount of flooding of populated areas, and around 6,500 people, mostly Canadians, were relocated to new towns.In addition to improved navigation, the seaway enabled both Ontario Hydro and the New York State Power Authority to develop hydroelectric facilities.The seaway was officially opened in 1959. To recognize that disparity, revenues from operations are shared in that proportion.The seaway's opening was officiated by Queen Elizabeth II and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Finished goods are now primarily shipped in containers, and shipments inland from Montreal are handled more economically by rail.

Learn history of St. Lawrence Seaway at virtual presentation next week

CANTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — Want to learn more about the St. Lawrence Seaway?

A virtual presentation will details features of the 370 mile seaway system in Canada and the United States. The waterway is a system of locks, canals and channels and permits ongoing vessels to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes at the western end of Lake Superior.

The presentation led by the St. Lawrence County Historical Association Executive Director Ashly Maready will include an overview of the St. Lawrence Seaway history. This will include construction, operation and significance.

According to SLCHA, Maready is a historian and museum professional. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Philosophy from Hood College and a Master of Arts in Applied History from Shippensburg University.

The event led by Maready is the first of several St. Lawrence County Historial Association Director’s Dialogue planned for 2021.

Those interested in attending the free, virtual event must RSVP by January 12 at 4p.m. via phone or email.

The St. Lawrence Seaway History Virtual Presentation will be held on January 13 at noon through Zoom.


Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

May 17, founding of Ville-Marie, now Montreal

Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Jeanne Mance and 40 French colonists settled on the Island of Montreal, which had been known to Europeans since Jacques Cartier’s visit in 1535.


For more than 200 years, small vessels coming to Montreal would dock along the shore, at the foot of the small city. Larger ships that could overcome the strong Sainte-Marie rapids, where the current Jacques-Cartier Bridge is located, would stop at Île Normant to unload their cargo. The cargo would then be transported into the city by merchants.

Conquest of Montreal by British forces

Montreal capitulates on September 7, 1760. The British refused to grant the honours of war to the French troops. Lévis burned its flags and New France was a thing of the past.


The merchants built wharves in front of their warehouses.

Around 1800, Montreal still did not have a port. The fortifications around the city were gradually taken down and the merchants, mostly lumber merchants, occupied nearly all of the shoreline.

The Accommodation, the first Canadian steamer, built by John Molson

On August 19, 1809, Hart Logan’s Shipyard, located near the Molson Brewery, launched the Accommodation, the first ship with mechanical propulsion to navigate the St. Lawrence River. Created by an obstinate John Molson and the know-how of the Forges du Saint Maurice, this steamer is capable of transporting cargo and passengers faster between Montreal and Quebec City. Constructing such a vessel was deemed advanced technology, similar to designing and building an aircraft today. But Molson did not stop there. By 1830, he owned 36 ships, the largest fleet of steamers in North America. The golden age of steamers culminated in 1845 when John Molson Jr. launched the Montréal and the Québec, which could make the Montreal-Quebec City run in twelve hours.

Opening of the Lachine Canal

Measuring 13.4 km long, 14.6 m wide and 1.4 m deep, this seven lock canal made it possible to bypass the dangerous Lachine Rapids between the Port and Lake Saint-Louis. Expanded twice in the 19th century, it played an important role in the development of Montreal, Ontario and Canada. Closed to commercial shipping in 1970, it was replaced by the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Creation of the Harbour Commission by the Montreal Trade Board to expand and improve the Port

The Trade Board – the current Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal – wanted to construct permanent wharves and a flood-retaining wall, pressing the government to dredge the river.

End of construction on the permanent wharves stretching over a kilometre

The Port truly takes flight in the 1830s when merchants turn to the exporting of grains, manufactured goods, foodstuffs, etc.

1st time the Top Hat was awarded. It would later be replaced by the Gold-Headed Cane around 1880

Until 1964, the Gold-Headed Cane was used to encourage the return of shipping in the spring. Today, the Cane is handed to the captain of the first oceanic vessel to reach the Port at the beginning of each year, a trophy desired by captains from many countries.

End of the channel dredging between Quebec City and Montreal: depth of 4.9 m and width of 76.2 m

Four years of major dredging work in the River now allows for the passage of larger steamers, some of which have draughts exceeding 4 metres.

First regular marine shipping service between Montreal and Liverpool, England

During the 1830s, Hugh Allan, a Scottish-born businessman, bought several ships and founded the Allan Line, which 20 years later would ensure regular shipping between Montreal and British ports.

With the opening of Victoria Bridge, Montreal became a hub for rail and marine transportation in Canada

First link with the south shore, this long tube of components prefabricated in England is laid on ice-breaking pillars with steel cutwaters. Longest rail bridge in the world at 2,790 m, it is declared the Eighth Wonder of the World.

A first: 500 ships in Montreal in the founding year of Canadian Federation

A new country is born in 1867. Canada, at that time, has four provinces and was founded on the rules of federalism, democracy, the rule of law and the respect of minorities. That same year, the Port of Montreal broke a record of 500 ships.

In the mid 19th century, industrialization in Montreal is in full swing. The port is buzzing with a myriad of activities, but only for the eight months when the River is free of ice. Steamers are interspersed with sailing ships docked at wharves laid out parallel to Rue de la Commune. In 1871, the first locomotive arrived on the wharves, making it possible to connect the port to the back country using rail.


Major dredging work along the length of the navigation channel between Quebec City and Montreal

With the increasing port traffic in Montreal, the Canadian government decided to extend the depth of the waterway between Quebec City and Montreal to 7.5 m and its width to 90 m.

First transcontinental train from the Port of Montreal to Vancouver

The train leaving Dalhousie Station on June 28, 1886. This regular service by Canadian Pacific connected Eastern and Western Canada, ensuring the country’s transportation independence.


Construction of the Jacques Cartier (1898-1899), Alexandra (1899-1901) and King Edward (1901-1903) wharves

The MacKay Pier was constructed in 1898 to contend with spring ice jams. The three concrete wharves were equipped with steel-structure hangars. In 1967, the MacKay Pier became Cité du Havre.

Construction of the first modern silo, elevator B, where the current silo no. 5 now sits

In the early 20th century, five large silos were constructed to receive Western Canadian grain transported to Montreal by train and laker in order to be exported by ship to Europe, Africa and elsewhere.

Inauguration of four permanent hangars at the Port of Montreal on October 3

Gigantic hangars are built between 1904 and 1908 on the raised wharves, safe from ice and flooding. Their steel frames and metallic cladding make it possible to store more cargo.


Silo no. 2, the first in the world to be built of reinforced concrete, is constructed in front of the Bonsecours Market

At the time, elevator no. 2 was the highest structure in Montreal. It was the first concrete silo and the largest on the Atlantic East Coast, doubling Montreal’s port capacity.

Grain silos are used for grain imports/ exports. The international grain trade grew between 1910 and 1920, forcing exporters and mills to innovate in the areas of grain handling and storage, loading and unloading speeds and the storage of larger volumes. They succeeded! In 1923, architect Le Corbusier judged the Montreal silos to be in perfect balance with their function. Today, elevator no. 4 is the last grain terminal in Montreal with a capacity of 262,000 tons, 350 silos and a handling capacity of 5,500 tons per hour.

Inauguration of the Clock Tower and the cold storage warehouse

Erected in accordance with the plans developed by Montreal engineer Paul Leclaire, the Clock Tower marks the entrance to the port. It commemorates the sailors of the Merchant Navy who lost their lives at sea during the world wars.

The nine floors of immense refrigerated rooms in this warehouse keep meat, cheese, fruit, vegetables and other perishable goods. The process: A calcium chloride brine is brought down to a very low temperature through the expansion of anhydrous ammonia. A neighbouring building houses the refrigeration plant which produces the electricity needed for the compressors and the port’s 9 new electric train locomotives as well as the 5 tons of ice needed each day, made in blocks weighing 45 kg. Entreposage.

Montreal, the largest grain port in North America

Montreal at that time was exporting 135 million bushels of grain, exceeding by a large margin the 75 million bushels exported by New York, which explains why silos with such large capacities were built, the first one in 1904 and the last one in 1982.

Opening of the Jacques Cartier Bridge and apex of the grain trade

Six months after the stock market crash in 1929, the Jacques Cartier Bridge opened to vehicle traffic and the port was booming. However, the Depression of the 1930s would temporarily lead to a decline at the port as well as the grain market.

Creation of the National Harbours Board and abolition of the regime of the Harbour Commissioners of Montreal

The federal Department of Transport was created in 1935. The following year, it created the National Harbours Board to administer Canadian ports and Trans-Canada Airlines – which would later become Air Canada – for air transportation.

Use of the port by 25 marine shipping companies, 8 months a year

With the economic recovery after the Second World War, the Port of Montreal went through development. New industries fuelled it and more imported goods came in to satisfy the increased purchasing power of Quebeckers and Canadians.

The St. Lawrence Seaway, the largest penetrating waterway of any continent, has been enabling cargo ships to enter the Great Lakes since 1959. Its construction between Montreal and Kingston was a feat of engineering, with seven locks lifting ships 75 m. Between lakes Ontario and Erie, eight other locks lift ships another 100 m, over the Niagara Escarpment.

The Old Port is declared a “Heritage Site” by the Government of Quebec

An important link in economic and social history, the port and its facilities are testament to the many contributions of port activities to the growth and development of Montreal, Quebec and Canada. They are part of the Site patrimonial du Vieux-Montréal and the Lachine Canal National Historic Site.

First complete year of winter navigation to the Port of Montreal

The Danish cargo ship Helga Dan was the first ship to reach the Port of Montreal in early January after regular work by Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers.

The International and Universal Exposition Man and His World was in full swing from April to October it presented 62 countries and welcomed more than 50 million visitors to Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame. The latter was created in 10 months using fill extracted from the tunnels being dug for the Montreal Metro. It is the largest worksite ever undertaken in Quebec over such a short period: more than 800 buildings, Habitat 67, La Ronde and others.

1967 also saw the inauguration of the Iberville Marine Terminal, here on the Alexandra Pier.

The Port of Montreal handles its first container

In 1967, the Port of Montreal handled its first container, an invention by Malcom McLean, in 1956, to eliminate bulk cargo transhipments that took too long. First used on the U.S. East Coast, it made its way across the Atlantic in 1966 and its use has since grown exponentially. Both the basic and specialized containers use the same securing system: corner pieces at the top and twist locks securing them to the frames of vehicles or handling systems.

Inauguration of the first Canadian container terminal in Montreal

This terminal would be expanded and would become the Cast Terminal in 1972. Another important event in1968: Manchester Liners began offering a weekly container shipping service to the UK.

Closing of the Lachine Canal to commercial shipping

Open for 11 years at this point, the St. Lawrence Seaway accommodates more and more ships of all sizes, even the smaller ones, which gradually stop using the Lachine Canal.

Handling of the millionth container at the Port of Montreal

A million containers have already been received or exported from the Port of Montreal. Beginning of construction on the second terminal, the Racine Terminal, which will be inaugurated in 1978.

A constantly-evolving port

The last few decades of the 20th century would bring many changes to the Port of Montreal. In 1978, the port transferred its oldest facilities to the Old Port, near Old Montreal. Later, new facilities were inaugurated at the Old Port, during the 350th anniversary celebrations for the city, in 1992. Five wharves were modified – Alexandra, King Edward, Jacques Cartier, as well as the Horloge and Convoyeurs wharves – while certain warehouses, grain silos and buildings were demolished.

Creation of a new port management organization, the Montreal Port Corporation

The organization reports to the Canada Ports Corporation, a modernized incarnation of the National Harbours Board, which has governed the Port of Montreal since 1936.

Opening of a third container terminal, the Maisonneuve Terminal

Given the lack of space at the Racine Terminal, a new large-capacity, high-efficiency terminal was built at the Port of Montreal, barely 20 years after the first container had arrived.

New channel dredging between Quebec City and Montreal, bringing its depth to 11.3 m.

Improvements in surveying and especially dredging techniques have now enabled government authorities to expand and deepen the St. Lawrence, providing better access to the Port of Montreal.

Creation of the Montreal Port Authority and setting of a new record

The Montreal Port Authority was created under the Canada Marine Act, passed on June 11, 1998. The port went into the year 2000 with a stunning record: 9 million tons of cargo and nearly a million containers handled.

New record: 25 million tons of bulk and container cargo handled

Proper management by the Montreal Port Authority, created 7 years ago, bears dividends. This record shows an appreciable increase in the volume of cargo handled, both in terms of bulk and containers.

First trip to Montreal by the Stena Paris, a PMAX-type oil tanker

At 183 m long and 40 m wide, the Stena Paris carries 30 to 45% more than regular tankers of the same length. It is even bigger than Panamax oil tankers which are 32 m wide.

Installation of an electronic navigation system from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Montreal

This navigation system enables the pilots who come onboard ships in the St. Lawrence to have access, in real time, to all the relevant information needed to navigate the River. St. Lawrence pilots can access the Canadian Coast Guard portal and with the most recent data: channel status, shoals, ice movements, navigation notices, etc. Connected to the AIS land-ship international communication system, pilots are now aware at all times of their position and that of other ships in the sector, water levels, tides, etc. Pilots can therefore more easily steer ships in difficult areas and can pass other ships safely where the channel is narrow, in bad weather or when there is nearly no visibility at all.

On September 23, the cruise ship AIDAluna docks for the first time at the Alexandra Pier. With 2,100 passengers on board, it is the largest cruise ship to go as far up the St. Lawrence, overcoming the challenges of passing under bridges in Quebec City and Trois-Rivières. International cruises along the St. Lawrence are becoming more and more popular, especially when the landscapes along the shoreline are bathed in fall colour.

Creation of CargoM, new metropolitan logistics and transportation cluster

CargoM brings together players in the Greater Montreal logistics and transportation sectors around common objectives and joint action focused on increasing cohesion, competitiveness and reach. Founding member of CargoM, the Port of Montreal is at the heart of this hub.

Opening of the Port of Montreal to post-Panamax ships, with widths of 44 m

Some Port of Montreal terminals can now accommodate post Panamax ships, since they are now equipped with cranes capable of loading and unloading these gigantic cargo ships.

Shipyards are now constructing more and more post-Panamax ships that are capable of getting through the Panama Canal which has been expanded to 49 m since 2016. For its part, the St. Lawrence channel has been able to accommodate post-Panamax ships that are up to 44 m wide, with certain restrictions: specific areas in the channel where meeting up with or passing other ships is tight and when there are strong crosswinds. They must then slow down and yield.

Handling of more than 35 million tonnes of cargo, a new record

2016 was very good! In addition to the new record, there was the inauguration of the Viau container terminal and the announced renovations to the Alexandra Pier and its cruise ship terminal.


Inauguration of the Grand Quay and its new services for cruise ships

The opening of the renovated terminal for cruise ships was on June 10, 2017 whereas the other public functions of the pier, renamed Grand Quay, were inaugurated the following year on June 3, 2018. It includes the Port Centre, the first of its kind in Quebec, with the interactive All aboard! exhibition.

Finalization of work on the Viau terminal and continuation of the planning of the Contrecoeur terminal

The Viau terminal is officially completed: in December 2020, the 2nd phase of works ends, bringing the terminal's capacity to 600,000 EVP containers.
The Contrecoeur terminal project reaches an important milestone with the announcement of $300 million in financing from the Canada Infrastructure Bank and the release of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada's draft report.

By Naval Institute Archives

June 26, 1959

The St. Lawrence Seaway, a project which transformed the Great Lakes into “The Eighth Sea” is completed.

“The completion of this majestic engineering project exemplifies national sovereignty and national growth at its best and highest.”

In May 1959, Proceedings published an article by Harry C. Brockel, which examined the benefits of constructing a 2,400-mile waterway system through the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. These benefits, which included the harnessing of previously undeveloped water power and the opening up of valuable resources in the Great Lakes region, also extended to national defense. An excerpt of the article describes the difficulties in beginning the project and its expected impact on national defense:

After 35 years of regional struggle and Congressional debate, the Seaway was finally authorized by the United States Congress in May, 1954. President Eisenhower signed the bill immediately, and within a few weeks one of the greatest engineering tasks in the history of the world was under way. It took only 4 1/2 years–from late 1954 until early 1959–for the engineering genius of Canada and the United States to bring into being the second largest power project in the world and a new waterway which will make the Great Lakes into “The Eighth Sea” or “The New Mediterranean.”

When opened to deep-draft ships, the St. Lawrence Seaway will consist of a 2,400-mile waterway system extending from the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes to the headwaters of the Lakes. Although a joint project was contemplated for many years, the legislation finally enacted by Canada and the United States made a simple and logical division of the work, with each country building the structures and improving the channels within its own territory. . . .

“The New Look” on the Great Lakes embraces not only the tremendous engineering works involved in the Seaway project and the building of an enormous hydroelectric structure, but the engineering marvel of the new Straits of Mackinac Bridge and a multimillion dollar program of new port structures in the lake ports which expect to be the principal terminals for the many new ocean lines now in operation or projected for the Great Lakes. The largest Great Lakes bulk freighters will be able to move freely between lake ports and tidewater. An estimated 80% of the world shipping fleet will find the Great Lakes accessible as a new world trade route. The small ocean ships and small “Canalers” which now link the Great Lakes and Montreal may linger briefly, but the inexorable facts of transportation will no doubt see them quickly replaced by fast, deep, large-capacity ships. One example of the attraction of the new project to shipping will be that an estimated two days–perhaps more–will be chopped off transit time between Montreal and the Great Lakes, with wide and deep canal sections replacing present shoestring canals and with seven tremendous locks replacing 21 obsolete small locks into which ships had to be shoehorned, at great cost in time and frustration to vessel masters.

The Seaway and National Defense

The military potentialities and the national defense aspects of the Seaway have been a major consideration in the prolonged national debate on the project and in international discussion of it. For example, during the defense mobilization, preceding World War II, President Roosevelt sent several special messages to the Congress urging immediate construction of the Seaway to add to the national arsenal for defense. On October 17, 1940, President Roosevelt said, “The development … of the Seaway should be undertaken at the earliest possible … to meet the continuing power requirements of the defense program in essential centers of war material production. The potential power at this site is best adapted to meet the requirements of expansion in certain essential defense industries including aluminum, magnesium, ferro-alloys, chemicals, etc. The project may be considered as an essential part of the program of continental defense.”

In a special message in June, 1941, President Roosevelt said, “I recommend construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project as an integral part of the joint defense of the North American continent … your action will either make available or withhold 2,200,000 horsepower of low-cost electric power for the joint defense of North America. Your action … will either open or keep bottled up one of the greatest transportation resources ever offered to people…. Our defense production is a gigantic assembly line transportation is its conveyor belt. The Seaway … will provide a great highway to and from important defense production areas. It will cut by more than a thousand miles the stretch of dangerous open water which must be traveled by supplies to Great Britain and strategic North Atlantic bases. It will increase our capacity to build ships. … The St. Lawrence Project must be expedited. No comparable power, shipbuilding and transportation facilities can be made available. . . . I know of no single project of this nature more important to this country’s future in peace or war.”

When he became president, Harry S. Truman similarly urged the building of the Seaway both for national expansion and to strengthen the country militarily.

As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and later as President, Mr. Eisenhower, with his experienced military background, became persuaded of the military merits of the project and its value to the national defense. His convictions were buttressed by a report of a special cabinet committee which he had appointed to study the project.

In the final historic debate in the United States Senate in 1954, borderline votes were favorably influenced by a special report by the Joint Chiefs of Staff who, just before the final Senate vote on the Seaway Bill, advised the Senate that the construction of the Seaway with United States participation would:

(1) Afford access of a relatively protected route to additional sources of high-grade iron ore, coal, lead, zinc, copper, titanium, and manganese

(2) Assure joint control … as important from the national security aspect as the Seaway itself

(3) Help in meeting the threat of submarine attack to exposed overseas shipping routes for essential materials

(4) Assure the United States the full benefits . . . in a shorter, more protected overseas route to the British Isles and Europe for transportation of military cargo

(5) Afford access to additional shipbuilding and repair facilities.

In view of the foregoing, the Joint Chiefs of Staff “consider the joint participation in the construction and operation of the St. Lawrence Seaway as necessary in the interests of national security.”

The military minds of the United States have always been conscious of the relatively sheltered location of the St. Lawrence route, with only 2,200 miles of open ocean between the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Channel ports, as compared to 3,300 miles via the ports of New York, Boston, or Philadelphia. The Gulf of St. Lawrence is much easier to protect against submarine attacks than are the open waters of the North Atlantic, attested to by the terrible losses in men, material, and ships suffered by North Atlantic convoys during the early years of World War II.

From the military standpoint, the Seaway will also open up the extensive shipbuilding resources of the Great Lakes area, which were used only to a minor degree in the last war. Of seventy million tons of naval and merchant shipping built in the United States during World War II, only about 2 1/2 per cent was launched in Great Lakes harbors, because of the difficulty of getting ships to sea via the shallow draft Illinois-Mississippi route or via the extremely limited St. Lawrence route. More than 60 per cent of the total material going into the shipbuilding program, however, originated in the Great Lakes area, and these millions of tons of material–steel, gears, engines, propellers, auxiliary motors, and the like–had to be transported by congested overland routes to shipbuilding centers on the seaboard. A cheaper cost for large­scale shipbuilding programs is reasonably indicated by the resources of the Great Lakes region in terms of steel production, water transportation, sheltered harbors, and large reservoirs of manpower, backed up by the machine shops of the continent which cluster on the shores of the lake region. A major report by the National Security Resources Board in 1950 strongly supported the building of the Seaway to buttress the national defense.

Water Power and National Defense

Another significant military aspect of the Seaway Project is the harnessing of the enormous hydroelectric power capacity of the St. Lawrence River in the International Rapids section between Massena, New York, and Cornwall, Ontario. The spectacular but dangerous Long Sault Rapids of the St. Lawrence have already disappeared from view as a result of the building of the second largest hydroelectric dam in the world. Built by the Province of Ontario and the Power Authority of the State of New York, the dam has been named in honor of two famous “Bobs,” the late Robert H. Saunders, Chairman of the Hydroelectric Power Commission of Ontario (an untimely victim of an airplane crash just as his long vision of building the St. Lawrence power dam was about to be realized), and the fiery Robert Moses, oft­called by the State of New York to handle tough assignments. As Chairman of the New York State Power Authority, Moses has driven the great St. Lawrence Power Project to completion, meeting every target date.

The great new power dam harnesses the 92-foot fall of the St. Lawrence in the 46-mile International Rapids section, where the river runs downhill with great velocity, with an annual average discharge in the range of 240,000 cubic feet per second. It was here that the spectacular Long Sault Rapids formerly terrorized mariners. An occasional venturesome Indian might run these rapids in a canoe and survive, but for conventional navigation only locks and canals would suffice.

The terror of the mariner was the dream of the hydroelectric engineer, and New York and Ontario have long aspired to harness the river at this point, capturing the largest undeveloped source of water power in North America. In July, 1958, the great dam was dedicated, and in September, 1958, the great turbines began to spin. This year the 32 enormous turbines, sixteen on each side of the international boundary, will be in full operation, harnessing 2,200,000 horsepower of energy and producing upward of thirteen billion kilowatt hours of energy each year.

The military and industrial significance of this great new power resource is obvious. Power from this great dam will flow as much as 300 miles from the dam site, sparking new industrial developments in Ontario and eastern Quebec and aiding in developing the great mineral resources of Ontario.

On the American side, spectacular new industrial developments have been stimulated by the new power source. These include a new aluminum plant being built at $100 million cost near Massena, New York, by Reynolds Aluminum Company. This tremendous plant will utilize both the navigation and the power of the St. Lawrence. Ocean ships will carry bauxite ore from distant lands to the plant, and the large concentration of power available at the site will permit the development of the first fully integrated aluminum plant in America, with raw alumina entering the plant on the river side and the finished product emerging from the far end. Significantly also, General Motors Corporation is building at Massena the largest aluminum foundry in the General Motors empire.

These are merely illustrative of the industrial developments confidently anticipated in the St. Lawrence River valley, in upper New York state, in parts of New England, and in Ontario and Quebec, powered by the great energy of one of the world’s mightiest rivers. The industrial capacity and the military potential of Canada and the United States are being significantly enhanced.

It is worth noting that the waters of the Great Lakes, as they fall toward the sea, not only will provide a unique combination of inland and ocean navigation, but will be one of the hardest working water supplies in the world from the power standpoint. Power is generated at Sault Saint Marie, at the downfall of Lake Superior toward Lake Huron. It is, of course, generated on an astronomical scale at Niagara Falls. The same water, moving east, will now be harnessed on an astronomical scale at the International Rapids section. Canadian power plants at several points between Massena and Montreal again send this water through their turbines on a significant scale.

Surely these must be considered among the hardest working waters of the world, with the rain droplets which fall into Lake Michigan or Lake Superior finding themselves called upon to serve the industrial and human needs of a great region to serve the quarter billion tons of navigation annually moving on the Great Lakes to be harnessed for power five or six times between Lake Superior and Montreal and finally to serve the unique combination of fresh water and salt water navigation now to be realized with the opening of the Seaway, the deepest extension of ocean navigation into a continental land mass to be found anywhere in the world.

The Seaway and Shipbuilding

One of the more interesting arguments for the Seaway was that it would open up vast new shipbuilding resources, both in terms of merchant marine and naval shipping. Seaway advocates argued, quite logically, that the Great Lakes Basin as the American center of steel production that the machine shops of America lined their shores that the country’s principal reservoir of skilled manpower was to be found in the North Central region. A considerable number of shipyards are in the area, but usually working on a “feast or famine” basis with tremendous peaks of demand in wartime, and with the production curve dragging between wars. The fresh waters of the Great Lakes are conducive to long life for ships. Many of the bulk freighter fleet on the Great Lakes even now are over forty years old. The absence of barnacles and marine growths assures long life to ships in fresh water. The long life of ships on the Great Lakes is perhaps dismaying to shipyards, but of great benefit to ship operators.

In this connection, the durability of iron ships in fresh water is strongly exemplified by the fact that the USS Wolverine, the first iron ship ever built on the Great Lakes, launched in 1844, is still afloat as a museum piece at Erie, Pennsylvania.

During World War II more than 1,100 ships were built on the Great Lakes, a superficially impressive figure. Included in lake­constructed ships were fleet-type submarines, destroyer escorts, frigates, landing craft, and a host of small auxiliary naval types and small merchantmen. However, few of these ships could get to sea via the St. Lawrence, because of lock size and depth restrictions in the antiquated 14-foot waterway. Most of them reached tidewater via the Illinois Waterway and the Mississippi River at staggering cost. Fully built and tested on the Great Lakes, they would then have superstructures cut off and would be variously ballasted down or pontooned up to get under bridges or through shallow reaches of the inland waterway system. Reaching the Gulf Coast, sometimes in battered condition from a difficult voyage, they would then be rebuilt and re-outfitted at great cost in time and money before they could be sent into action.

The Navy and the Great Lakes

The U. S. Navy and the Great Lakes have a glorious historical association going back to the War of 1812. One of the clean-cut American victories of that war was the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813, when Oliver Hazard Perry, who had been commissioned to build, equip, and man a fresh water fleet, destroyed the British fleet which had dominated the eastern Great Lakes, won control of Lake Erie for American arms, and handed down to posterity the great naval victory message, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”

Naval utilization of Great Lakes shipbuilding resources during World War II probably represented the maximum reasonably possible, under the limitations of the waterways which connect the Great Lakes to the high seas.

After the war, the Navy gave consideration in shipbuilding awards to many factors, including cost, the need to maintain a widely dispersed shipbuilding potential, and other national interest considerations. A Navy report in 1954 pointed out that Great Lakes and inland waterway yards had only about 8.6% of the construction and conversion program then under way. This compared to 51.3% East Coast, 28.9% West Coast, and 11.2% Gulf. The Navy utilized lake shipyards for building mine sweepers, destroyer escorts, and auxiliaries, not only to support Great Lakes shipbuilding as a military resource, but because in many instances lake shipyards had a high efficiency rating and were often low bidders.

Military Vulnerability

To rebut the national defense arguments in favor of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the project was invariably attacked by its opponents as being vulnerable from a military standpoint. It was argued that the project would involve strategic points such as major locks and dams which by bombing or sabotage could be taken out of service, and thus make the whole waterway inoperative. Proponents replied that if this line of reasoning were true, the Panama Canal, the Soo Locks, and the other great ship canals of the world should be taken out of service to remove the military threat they presented. It was said that the Port of New York might as well be abandoned because it, too, was militarily vulnerable. The underlying thought was, of course, that mankind does not deny itself the great works of peace because they may be vulnerable in time of war.

The Seaway and the Future

A convincing case can be made that World War II might actually have been shortened had the St. Lawrence Seaway been completed and ready for service before Pearl Harbor. The shipbuilding resources of the Great Lakes could have been used on a larger scale an enormous power resource would have contributed mightily to the national power output, particularly to alumina production for aircraft and a sheltered transportation route would have reduced the hazardous North Atlantic crossing by a thousand miles, with a possible large saving in ships, strategic cargo, and lives.

If the horror of nuclear war and of intercontinental ballistic missiles can be avoided and if future wars were to follow conventional forms, then the Seaway inescapably will be a vital factor in raw material procurement, power output, military logistics, and added industrial strength. It will have a key role in continental defense considerations.

Assuming that all past patterns of military conflict are to go by the board and assuming the worst in terms of a short and deadly struggle with fantastic weapons, even then one may conclude that the St. Lawrence Project will make a contribution. Its contribution will be to help the United States and Canada build an industrial machine of such strength and magnitude that it will serve as a mighty deterrent to aggressors. The Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence, in this sense, are the arterial stream for the mighty resources of the midcontinent area, embracing steel mills, heavy industries, coal fields, petroleum, the world’s richest farm lands, and great cities of skilled crafts. These are military resources of the first magnitude. These build the total complex of industrial and economic might which towers behind armies and ships.

Finally, modern diplomacy and defense is not limited to fire power. Secretary of Defense McElroy has emphasized that international trade is just as important as military agreements in buttressing America’s allies. Secretary McElroy said that foreign trade strengthens the domestic economy and is essential to the economy of other friendly nations. “If stable, strong allies are important to us, then international trade is important to us,” he stated.

The St. Lawrence is above all a great new mechanism for foreign trade. On its waters will flow vital raw materials from the Dominion of Canada and from many areas of the world to serve the mighty industrial machine of the Great Lakes region. From its ports will move foodstuffs and manufactured goods which, going to friendly nations and allies, will improve their way of life, strengthen diplomatic relationships, and exemplify a peaceful world of trade. From its shipyards will be launched mighty merchantmen and the navies of the future. The completion of this majestic engineering project exemplifies national sovereignty and national growth at its best and highest.

America’s new fourth seacoast–the new eighth sea–the American Mediterranean­-whatever we may call it, the new deep water highway to the Atlantic and the symbolic mingling of fresh and salt water in the very heart of the continent is rich with portents for a stronger and better America. It adds some powerful new muscles to national security and continental defense. микрозаймы

Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System

Since the first French colonists settled in modern-day Canada, humans had attempted to improve navigation on the St. Lawrence Seaway and on the Great Lakes. People living along the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River hoped to allow ocean-going vessels to travel the length of the river as well as to traverse several of the Great Lakes. This would allow improved trade and better profits for people living in these areas. While the French, British, and Canadians made numerous improvements to the St. Lawrence River, especially the building of small canals to bypass rapids and falls, these various groups of people only experienced minor successes in improving the river's navigation until the twentieth century.

During the 1950s, the Canadian and the United States government worked together to create the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System. Construction began in September 1954 and was completed on July 4, 1958, although the first vessel did not traverse the entire seaway until April 1959. Queen Elizabeth II and President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally opened the seaway on June 26, 1959.

The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System provided residents along the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes dramatically improved access to better markets, including international ones. In its first year of operation, more than twenty-five million tons of products traveled along the seaway.

The seaway's opening increased trade and production in several Ohio cities. Ashtabula, Cleveland, and Toledo experienced growth. Unfortunately, the long-term economic benefits of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System have not met initial expectations. Due to ice forming on the waterway during winter months, the seaway remains open, on average, 260 days per year. The size of the canals also prohibits larger ships from using the watercourse. In 1979, the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System experienced its greatest use, with more than eighty million tons of products traveling along the seaway. In the waterway's first thirty years of existence, 160,000 ships from fifty different nations traversed the route. The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System remains operation today, although in 2004 it became known as HwyH2O.

St. Lawrence Canal Construction

Efforts were made as early as 1701 to overcome the difficulties of moving boats upstream on the St. Lawrence River in the face of rapids which existed between Lachine and Montreal. This early construction was resumed in 1717 but abandoned in 1718 without completion because of the huge expense of excavation through rock conditions.

More than a hundred years passed before the government of Lower Canada succeeded in completing the Lachine Canal (8.5 mi.) in 1821-1825.

In Upper Canada a series of rapids from Cardinal to Cornwall made travel by any boat of size a difficult task. Further downstream the route between Lake St. Francis and Lake St. Louis was also treacherous.

Early canal construction, being very expensive, only called for a minimum depth and size. Four foot depth was considered adequate for bateau passage but by the time the larger “Durham” boats were common, engineers were recommending nine feet depth as the standard. In addition, widths were increased, and when locks were built, the length of each lock was now increased to over 100 feet. This allowed for fleets of boats or barges moving together.

The three small canals collectively known as the Williamsburg Canals shown on the map as the “Galops” (7.375 miles), the “Rapide Plat” (4 miles) and the “Farran’s Point” (.75 miles) were completed in 1847. These were mostly needed to move the new side-wheeler steamers upstream.

The Cornwall Canal (11.5 mi.) was commissioned in 1833, but was not completed until 1843. It was designed to furnish a passage around the “Long Sault” rapids.

The Beauharnois Canal (11.25 mi.) was constructed to overcome the “Cascades”, “Cedar” and “Coteau” rapids, and is the only one attempted on the south side of the river. It was undertaken between 1842 and 1845. This canal proved unsatisfactory because of low water levels and a crooked channel.

Some years later this part of the river was supplemented by the new Soulanges Canal (14 mi.) opened on the north side in 1899. It was far more modern in design, contained five locks and was built at an expenditure of over 6 million dollars by 1905.

Present day conditions are the result of a joint Canadian-U.S. development, the St. Lawrence Seaway which was negotiated in 1954. Opened in 1959, the international waterway now permits the passage of ships up to 222.5 metres long by 23.2 m. and a maximum draft of 7.9 m. to travel from Montreal to Duluth, Minn.

The sad disruption of river villages, and the building of the large power dams is another story that can’t be told here.

Sources: This is part of a larger map entitled “St. Lawrence, Ottawa, Rideau and Richelieu Canals” included in a set of maps in the Annual Report of the Canadian Department of Railways and Canals for 1907. The original envelope that enclosed them was addressed to James McDougall, a Brockville grocer and the father of the late Dr. Jack McDougall.
The primary source of information on these canals was found on an Internet site entitled: “Historical Sites – The Canals of Canada” developed by Bill Carr.

Navigating the St. Lawrence: Challenging Waters, Rich History and Bright Future

The St. Lawrence marine corridor plays a key role in Canada’s economy and supply chain. The geography as well as the unique physical attributes and water dynamics of the St. Lawrence challenge the commercial ships transiting through this maritime route in more than one way.

The St. Lawrence River is one of the world’s major rivers, flowing into the estuary and gulf that shares the same name. It provides nearly 1,200 kilometres of navigable waters that link the Great Lakes and the heart of North America to the Atlantic Ocean, acting as a vital artery for Canada’s economy and supply chain.

Some 8,000 commercial vessels sail this marine highway every year, carrying more than 100 million tonnes 1 of cargo. In 2017, marine shipping activities on the St. Lawrence Seaway contributed more than $16 billion to the Canadian economy, according to a study conducted by the Chamber of Marine Commerce.

The St. Lawrence marine corridor, which is made up of the river and the Seaway, is recognized for its economic value including its strategic location for trade with the United States, Europe and the world. Its challenging physical features and dynamic waters make it one of the most complex waterways in the world for ships to navigate. It is part of the traditional territory of the Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawk) Nation and the Wabanaki peoples including the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) Nation.

This blog explores the physical characteristics of the St. Lawrence and the main challenges they pose to the commercial vessels using the waterway. It also gives an overview of the safety measures in place and the various initiatives aimed at enhancing the productivity and sustainability of marine shipping on this major route.

The St. Lawrence Seaway: A Short History

Commercial marine shipping on the St. Lawrence corridor has a long history. Indigneous people paddled the waters they called Kaniatarowanenneh , or the “big waterway”, more than 9,000 years ago using it as a trading and transportation route. Learn more about the major role Mohawks have played in the history of the St. Lawrence and their involvement in the protection and preservation of ecosystems along the St. Lawrence here .

The European explorers who settled New France, Upper and Lower Canada used the St. Lawrence as an important transportation link. As North America grew and prospered, major development of the St. Lawrence River was required to allow commercial vessels to sail between Montreal and the Great Lakes. During the 1930s and 1950s, development activity included dredging 2 , digging channels, and the construction of locks. In the 1950s, the decision was taken by Canada and the United States to jointly build the St. Lawrence Seaway. When it opened in 1959, it was considered one of the great engineering feats and examples of international co-operation of the 20 th century.

Covering a distance of 306 km, it links Montreal with Port Colborne, Ont., on Lake Erie and includes 15 locks – seven of which are located in the St. Lawrence (five on the Canadian side and two on the American side) – allowing ships to transit through it despite an elevation gain of 168 metres. From there, it reaches Lake Superior and Thunder Bay, the gateway to Canada’s grain producing Prairies, some 183 metres above sea level. The St. Lawrence Seaway is jointly managed by Canada and the United States, to ensure that it remains safe and well maintained.

Navigating Safely: The St. Lawrence Pilots

Under Canada’s Pilotage Act , the St. Lawrence between Les Escoumins – located on Quebec’s North Shore – and Montreal, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes are mandatory pilotage areas. In these areas of higher risk, ships of certain sizes and tonnages are legally required to have one or more licensed pilots on board. These pilots have in-depth knowledge of the river, its dynamics, and the regulations and restrictions in force in their pilotage area. They ensure that ship transits are safe, efficient and respect sensitive ecosystems.

Between Les Escoumins and Montreal, foreign vessels over 35 metres in length, Canadian vessels over 70 metres in length whose total transport capacity (gross tonnage) exceeds a certain tonnage, and barges carrying pollutants are subject to compulsory pilotage . The Laurentian Pilotage Authority is the Crown corporation responsible for managing compulsory pilotage on this section of the St. Lawrence as well as on the Saguenay River. It is responsible for assigning licensed pilots to the ships that require them.

The Authority works with the Corporation of the Lower St. Lawrence Pilots , for transits between Les Escoumins and the Port of Quebec or towards Saguenay, and the Corporation of Mid St. Lawrence Pilots for transits between the ports of Quebec and Montreal. On the St. Lawrence Seaway – from the entrance of the Saint-Lambert lock to Lake Ontario – as well as on the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes, foreign ships over 35 metres in length, those with gross tonnage exceeding 1,500 tonnes and certain tugs are subject to compulsory pilotage . The Great Lakes Pilotage Authority manages and assigns licensed pilots in this area.

A Complex Route with Multiple Challenges

With its shallows, fogs, the presence of ice in winter, strong tides, multi-directional currents, and locks, the St. Lawrence is not a long, calm river. Its physical attributes and the dynamics of its waters pose many challenges to navigation and logistics.

Click image to expand:

Varying Widths and Depths

Since the St. Lawrence spans a gulf, an estuary and a river, its width and depth fluctuate considerably from one section to another. More than 300 km wide in the Gulf of St. Lawrence 3 , it gradually narrows in the estuary and the river where, in places, it is only one kilometre wide 4 . In comparison, the Strait of Juan de Fuca – which connects the Salish Sea to the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of Canada – is about 10 kilometres wide at its narrowest point. The depth of the St. Lawrence also fluctuates from one sector to another depending on bottom topography and the tides which cause the water levels to vary. In the gulf and the estuary, for example, the St. Lawrence is several hundred metres deep while the depth of the river is just over a dozen metres.

The shipping channel – the designated corridor through which ships transit – also has varying dimensions 5 depending on the area. Between Les Escoumins and Montreal, the minimum width of the channel varies from 229 metres to 305 metres and its depth ranges from 10.7 metres to 12.5 metres. Between Trois-Rivières and Montreal the width of the channel is the narrowest (229 metres), and the section between Quebec and Trois-Rivières is where the channel is the shallowest (10.7 metres). However, in this segment, ships can benefit from tides and available depths that exceed 10.7 metres at certain times of day.

Access to the Seaway: A Matter of Size

The narrowness of the river, its shallows, as well as the presence of locks in the Seaway impose constraints – width and draft 6 – to the ships that transit the river. Ships coming from the lower St. Lawrence whose length and beam do not exceed 294 metres and 44 metres, can reach Montreal. Between Les Escoumins and the Port of Montreal, the maximum draft allowed to ensure safe transits despite the shallows varies according to the tides and available water levels. Between Montreal and Lake Erie, due to the size of the locks, only vessels whose length and beam does not exceed 225.5 metres and 23.8 metres 7 can access the Seaway. The maximum draft allowed for ships transiting through the St. Lawrence Seaway varies between 8 and 8.8 metres 8 , depending on water levels.

How Ships Approach and Overtake Each Other

When ships meet on the St. Lawrence and seek to pass each other, strict rules are in place that are governed by the size of the vessels in transit and the dimensions and layout of the shipping channel. To ensure safe management of the marine traffic in the sections where there are many topographical constraints, pilots refer to the navigation chart VN301 . This chart highlights the sections of the St. Lawrence in which ships can or can’t meet and overtake each other based on their size. For example, between Quebec and Cap Ste-Michel à l’Île aux Vaches in Montérégie, vessels from 270 to 300 metres length can’t meet or overtake one another in more than ten locations.

How the Seasons Affect Navigation

Marine shipping activities and navigation on the St. Lawrence are seriously influenced by seasonal changes and weather conditions. In the winter, precipitation, the presence of ice in the shipping lanes and the absence of illuminated buoys 9 downstream from Montreal add a degree of complexity to ship movements. To ensure that shipping activities remain unhampered and safe in these situations, the Canadian Coast Guard is setting up an Ice Operations Centre which provides pilots with information on ice conditions, de-icing activities and safe routes to follow. Moreover, during winter, the Laurentian Pilotage Authority mandates that two licensed pilots must be on board ships transiting between Les Escoumins and Montreal. Meanwhile, the St. Lawrence Seaway is closed to navigation from the end of December to mid-March, since the ice makes the lock system impassable.

Photo credit: Laurentian Pilotage Authority

In the spring, melting ice and occasional heavy precipitation raise water levels in the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes. High water levels can have significant economic effects for the marine shipping industry and waterfront communities. Ships in motion create wakes when water levels are high, this added turbulance can flood or damage shorelines and riverside infrastructure. To reduce these risks and ensure that vessel transits remain safe when water levels are above normal, various measures can be implemented by the pilotage authorities and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, including:

  • delaying the opening of the commercial shipping season on the St. Lawrence Seaway
  • tightening speed limits and maximum draft permitted
  • reducing the number of ships in the shipping lanes
  • prohibiting certain vessels from transiting at night – for example, wide beam vessels (more than 32.5 metres wide) and very long vessels (more than 270 metres long) 10

High water levels are a major seasonal issue as they can cause significant damage along the river as well as delay the movement of goods and cut commercial productivity.

Finally, in the summer, the warm air masses that travel over the cold waters of the St. Lawrence create considerable temperature differences on the water’s surface, which generate fog and reduce visibility in the shipping lanes.

Photo credit: Corporation of the Lower St. Lawrence Pilots

Tides and Currents

From the Gulf to Trois-Rivières, the St. Lawrence is influenced by strong tides and currents that cause significant variations in water levels. The safe passage of ships – especially large ocean-going vessels – in this part of the river is dependent on the tides. For pilots, it’s a matter of synchronization: they must use the tides and currents to create optimal windows for passage and assure ships have sufficient depths. A ship arriving at Les Escoumins during a rising tide could benefit from favourable water levels and resulting effects throughout its journey to an upstream port. Conversely, a large vessel entering the St. Lawrence during an ebb tide may have to slow down and even drop anchor, to wait for the tide to turn before it can continue on its course.

Optimization of Transits on the St. Lawrence: Towards a Digital Waterway

The St. Lawrence is a busy marine corridor. The number of ships and the volume of goods passing through it continue to grow every year. Therefore, the optimization of ship transits is and will remain a key element to ensure safe, efficient and sustainable marine shipping activities on this route.

Vessels that move from point A to B without being interrupted, that benefit from favourable tides and helpful currents, and whose arrival at the port is timed with the dock availability, consume less fuel and emit fewer pollutants – greenhouse gases, sulphur oxides and others. Smooth transits that allow cargoes to be delivered more quickly and efficiently have a positive impact on the productivity and environmental performance of the entire supply chain.

The modernization of the ways of doing things plays an important role in transit optimization on the Laurentian route. The “digitization” of the St. Lawrence to make it a smart marine corridor is also an integral part of Quebec’s maritime vision (in French only), which aims to place artificial intelligence and automation at the forefront to boost the efficiency of commercial marine shipping and stimulate sustainable economic development on the river.

Industry stakeholders – ports, pilots, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, and maritime innovation research centres – have already begun this digital shift through various initiatives. Among them, the implementation of an automated hands-free mooring system in all the locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway the creation of a tidal current optimization software and the development of a travel optimization software that calculates, in just a few seconds, the best routes to prevent operational delays caused by weather conditions, currents, navigation restrictions, etc. Recently, the Laurentian Pilotage Authority has started working on a software application to optimize the pilotage and passage of ships between Les Escoumins and Montreal. Developed jointly with Innovation Maritime – the applied research centre affiliated with the Institut maritime du Québec (Quebec’s Maritime Institute) – this application will allow the Authority to automate and optimize transit planning in real time based on weather data, water levels at different times of the day, vessel size, and more. This project should be completed in 2022.

All of these initiatives will contribute to improving the safety of shipping on the St. Lawrence, the smooth and efficient flow of maritime traffic as well as protect the river environment.

#marinesafety #sustainablemarineshipping #pilotage

2 Dredging is a clearing operation that involves scraping the bottom of a water body to remove natural obstacles such as rocks and sediments. Dredging ensures that marine corridors such as the St. Lawrence River are free of any obstacles that could compromise the flow and safety of the vessels passing through it.

3 Stratégies Saint-Laurent. (2011). Le Saint-Laurent – Géographie . (Available in French only).

4 Stratégies Saint-Laurent. (2011). Le Saint-Laurent – Géographie . (Available in French only).

5 Data on widths and depths of the shipping channel between Les Escoumins and Montreal provided by the Laurentian Pilotage Authority (2020).

6 Draft corresponds to the submerged part of a ship’s hull the height of the draft varies according to the load carried. The more a ship is loaded, the greater the height of the submerged part (draft).

7 St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. (2020). Locks, Canals & Channels . Retrieved May 27, 2020.

8 St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. (2020). Seaway Notice No. ° 1 – 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.

9 In winter, illuminated buoys are replaced by smaller non-illuminated buoys designed to resist ice floes. However, during winter 2019-2020, 32 new lighted, four-season buoys were tested by the Canadian Coast Guard between Les Escoumins and Montreal. These new buoys will eventually replace the current buoys and provide ships with visual markers all year round.

10 Fisheries and Oceans Canada. (2020). Notices to Mariners 1 To 46 Annual Edition 2020. 27A – Guidelines for the Transit of Wide Beam Vessels and Long Vessels . p. 204.

Pride of the Inland Seas

Pride of the Inland Seas: An Illustrated History of the Port of Duluth-Superior tells the tale of the Twin Ports’ development during three centuries of economic, technological, political and social change. This is the story of those who built, loaded and sailed the ships that made Duluth-Superior synonymous with Great Lakes maritime commerce.

Authors Bill Beck and C. Patrick Labadie bring lifetimes of Great Lakes experience to the pages of Pride of the Inland Seas, published in collaboration with the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, July 2004. The foreword is written by former Port Director Davis Helberg.

For additional stories of our Port’s history, be sure to read Pride of the Inland Seas: Companion Stories available for download below.

Readers may save these stories for future enjoyment or reference, but please note that the stories and images are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced in any form for personal gain.

St. Lawrence Seaway - History

New York State, fearful that British Canada would control trade by building a canal around Niagara Falls, completed the Erie Canal in 1825 connecting the Hudson River to Lake Erie. British Canada completed the Welland Canal in 1829 to permit small ocean-going ships to enter the Great Lakes, bypassing Niagara Falls. The locks on the St. Lawrence were enlarged in 1847, permitting the Dean Richmond in 1856 to sail from Chicago to Liverpool with a load of wheat. Chicago&aposs role as an international seaport dates from that sailing.

The limited dimensions of the canal locks restricted international traffic until 1901, when Canada completed the enlargement of both systems to handle ships 270 feet long and 55 feet wide, allowing the new steel-hulled ocean steamers access to the lakes.

The construction of the modern St. Lawrence Seaway was a joint project between the United States and Canada begun in the 1940s and completed in 1959 at a cost of $470 million. The seven locks on the 190-mile St. Lawrence section and eight on the 26-mile Welland Canal were each built 766 feet long, 80 feet wide, and 30 feet deep to accommodate ocean ships.

The seaway never quite lived up to its proponents&apos expectations, however. Although traffic increased steadily from 18.4 million metric tons in 1960 to 57.4 million tons in 1977, it began to decline thereafter. The larger ships built for transoceanic and lake traffic could not negotiate the seaway&aposs locks. Overseas traffic to and from Chicago via the seaway declined from 4.3 million short tons in 1977 to 1.9 million by 1996.

St. Lawrence Seaway

Build grammar skills using this activity and answer key for an article about the longest inland waterway.

Click for a PDF (portable document format) printable version of this Every-Day Edit activity.

Scroll down or click for work sheet text and answer key.

On June 26, 1959, president Dwight Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II dedicated the Saint Lawrence Seaway. The seaway is the worlds longist inland waterway. Ships are able to travel the seaway from Duluth, Minnesota, to the atlantic ocean, which is a total distance of more then 2,000 miles. More than 50 million tons of cargo moves along the seaway each year ships carry steel wood coal and much more.

On June 26, 1959, P resident Dwight Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II dedicated the Saint Lawrence Seaway. The seaway is the world ' s longest inland waterway. Ships are able to travel the seaway from Duluth, Minnesota, to the A tlantic O cean, which is a total distance of more than 2,000 miles. More than 50 million tons of cargo moves along the seaway each year . S hips carry steel , wood , coal and much more.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor in Chief
Copyright © 2005 Education World

Watch the video: St Lawrence Seaway and River (June 2022).


  1. Guzuru

    The highest number of points is achieved. Great idea, I agree.

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