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The Seaway Project
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The St. Lawrence Seaway ....
The St. Lawrence Seaway is an inland waterway that stretches some 2300 miles from the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the north Atlantic to the far northern reaches of the Great Lakes in the heart of North America.
This site is designed to show you a bit about the history and geography of a small section of the Seaway.
The How & Why Of The St. Lawrence Seaway
The St. Lawrence Seaway Project of the 1950's was a huge construction program that greatly affected many people's lives and futures, not to mention the economic life of at least the northeastern part of North America.
The elements required to complete this mammoth undertaking were very complex from both a technical and political point of view.
A narrow 40 mile section of the St. Lawrence river located on the U.S. (New York), Canadian (Ontario) border about 60 miles south of the port of Montreal contained a great many navigational hazards. This bottleneck made it impossible to fulfill the dreams of many ... to have a navigable inland waterway for sea going ships, from the Atlantic to the North America heartland.
Shipments would no longer have to be off loaded at ports such as New York and Montreal and shipped by rail or truck to their final destinations. This was very desirable because it would greatly lower the shipping costs of commodities and other products to/from the large industrial centres in the Northeast.
There were also those who for political and/or business reasons did not want to see this project proceed. It had been seriously talked about for at least 20 years but never got anywhere because of the multitude of political jurisdictions involved and the lobbying efforts of powerful business interests.
This log jam apparently got broken when Canada finally announced that it was going ahead with the Seaway project on its own, with or without U.S cooperation. At this point, it seems the U.S. didn't think too much of the idea of an all Canadian Seaway, and decided to join in.
Construction started about 1954 and the Seaway was officially opened by president Dwight D. Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth in the summer of 1959.
As you will see in these pages, the scope of the project was massive. It involved thousands of workers and machines.
The flow and course of one of the world's greatest rivers was altered by man. A notorious section of rapids that had existed for thousands or millions of years was at first shut off, then re-submerged beneath the depths of millions of tons of quiet placid water.
A new lake 30 miles long was created to produce hydro-electric power for two countries, and a 40 foot deep shipping channel dredged into the bottom of the river bed.
For more details on what was required to do this, click here on
St. Lawrence Seaway Project or choose the link on the left panel.
The True Cost Of The St. Lawrence Seaway
Several thousand people were up routed from their homes and forced to move by the legal device known as expropriation. Due to the geography of the river and the settlements along it, almost all the people affected were on the Canadian side.
Whole towns and villages were moved and/or levelled to make way for the creation of Lake St.Lawrence. Even cemeteries were relocated to higher ground.
Thousands of acres of shoreline were submerged forever as Lake St. Lawrence established its new boundaries.
Some 40 years later ... this project is still bitterly remembered by some of the locals, and the often heavy handed way their objections were handled by either governments, or semi government agencies.
In some cases feelings were so strong that armed confrontations resulted. These agencies would argue they had a job to do and a timetable to do it in. They used the legal tools available to them, and paid people a fair price for their property loss.
It is very likely in this author's opinion that such a massive project like this could not be done again to-day. The hurdles are just too great. The environnmental and lobby groups too strong. The politicians in the various jurisdictions wouldn't likely agree to anything.
There are about 100 pictures of the Seaway in various stages of construction on this site. They are organized in categories and most have descriptions to go with them. In some cases there may also be a little story to go with the photo.
Simply click on the "View Pictures" link below to take a peek at Seaway history.
We hope you enjoy the experience. If there are some glaring errors in this presentation that you have some personal knowledge about, please send an e-mail and we'll correct them.
NOTE: The pictures on this site were digitally reproduced from private photo collections. Several slides in one photo collection were taken by Ontario Hydro photographers. Special thanks to Richard & Betty Vinet who gave us access to the black and white photos shown for Morrisburg.
Our deepest thanks to the private donators and Ontario Hydro. Third parties are hereby given permission to reproduce these photos for non commercial purposes as long as credit is given to the above sources and to this site.
Staff at Tekmaster
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