There is always a bittersweet feeling when you wrap up a project. You’re proud that you completed the project and hopefully worth the effort you took to complete it from beginning to end. But you’re also sad because you cannot keep working on the subject. While this one, compared to some of my two recently history projects, was far smaller. The Anglo-American War of 1812 and Canadian Confederation were exhaustive topics filled with all sorts of twists and turned. The Welland Canal is far more straight forward, which is why I could complete the project in such a short amount of time. I guess learningRead More →

When it comes to all the posts I’ve written about the Welland Canals, this one is probably the most important. The reason is that if it hadn’t been for the efforts to save the historic Welland Canals, this whole project would not have been worth creating. The reason is that there would be nothing left of the first Canals at least in original forms. Sure there might have been plaques installed eventually, and some sections of the earlier Canals may have survived, but I don’t think in any meaningful sense. The preservation of the historical Welland Canals was the last thing on the minds ofRead More →

I have this memory that recently floated up to the surface of a camping trip I took many years ago with my dad and brother. We were camping at Sherkston Shores a camping resort half-way between Fort Erie and Port Colborne. While I have excellent memories of swimming in the old quarry and the three waterslides, but less clear is a visit we made one trip to the Welland Canal. We’re all unclear as to what lock we visited. My brother remembers stores. And there was also the stranger who gave us chocolate bars (through our dad) on that same trip. I’m sure buried inRead More →

Like the Canal, the industries that formed along the corridor needed to adapt and change as technology, power, and market demand changed throughout history. During the early day of the Canal, industries could get by working in a relatively small area. Local grain, timber, and materials were brought to the mills, and then the products were used within the local market. The Canadian Industry during the first part of the 19th Century remained local, colonial, provincial. They were dedicated mainly to the extraction and processing of raw materials. But the 1850s brought two significant changes, the first being an effective railway network that provided furtherRead More →

The Welland Canal attracted a wide range of industry. But most of the industry used the Canal as a way to bring in power to drive the machines, transport in raw materials, and ship out finished products. But if there is a single industry that not only depended on the presence of the Canal but also provided goods and service to the Canal, it is the shipbuilding industry. Shipbuilding in Canada was nothing new; ships were the cars of the day as water was the highway. And with most the communities that existed in Canada were on the water. While Mills drove inland communities onRead More →

Most will overlook the third Welland Canal, and with good reason, of all the canals it is the least interesting, the least preserved and is, to be honest, boring. The Third Canal came at a moment of transition, a move from a colonial province to a world power for Canada. Plus the end of the age of sail. The Second Canal by the 1850s had just completed their depth increase to put it in line with the improved navigation along the St. Lawerence, Detroit, and St. Clair Rivers. But the increased depth, increased size in ships only showed the need for an improved water sourceRead More →

Any modern historical narrative is incomplete without the inclusion of the human cost to any historical event. The Welland Canal, despite being a thing, impacted the human condition in the corridor where the canal runs. It took a great deal of human effort to build all three canals. Not only is there the cost of human lives but also impact on the communities, land, and political landscape. One thing that you have to remember, the Welland Canal came in the days before labour laws and protections for workers. In many cases, the men who did the dangerous work did so without safety equipment, medical attention,Read More →

Since the first arrival of European settlers to the American continent, the drive to develop a local economy and industry. The new continent proved a wealth of raw material through timber, fur, and minerals. Open untouched space allowed for large farms and rivers teamed with fish. The first industries in the area were all related to the extraction and processing of these raw materials. The business owners made a fortune and grew into a new world nobility. Electricity remained decades away, and these industries relied either on animal power or better, water power. Water power relied on running water to drive massive wheels which turnedRead More →

While the construction of the canal inspired a great deal of urbanization of the Niagara Region, but not all towns came into being because of the canal. Even before the canal came to the region, the area attracted a great deal of colonization in the days during and following the American Revolution mainly by Loyalists. Officially today they’re called United Empire Loyalists, and they formed the core of the original European population in Upper Canada, created out of the Province of Quebec. Quebec had been under British occupation since the end of the French-Indian War, and the government was maintained to match that of NewRead More →

If you mention the Welland Canal today many people will think of the massive shipping channel cutting across the Niagara Penisula, an artificial river you see from the Garden City Skyway that carries the QEW over the top the channel. Part of an elaborate and technologically advanced highway and major trade corridor from the Atlantic Ocean to the northernmost Great Lakes. The Canal has humble beginnings. Since the earliest days of human settlement in the Niagara Regions, the major transit between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie has been the Niagara River. Even the first peoples realised they required a long portage as the great falls,Read More →