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 →

Out of all communities formed along the Welland Canal, both large and small, the ones that are most important to the Canal are the ports. It’s easy to tell which communities along the Canal remain or are former terminuses or access points onto the Welland Canals as most of them carry the title Port in their name. Welland for example offered through the first two Canals access onto the feeder canal that exited at Port Maitland (which I will not be covering today, sorry). While once-thriving communities with some level of municipal independence all save Port Colborne are a part of a larger city today,Read 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 →

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 →

By 1836 the Welland in its current form remained woefully behind the times. Compared to the canal systems along the St. Lawrence River, the military Rideau Canal, and the under-construction Trent-Severn waterway, the Welland Canal remained little more than a cheap imitation to the technology of the day. Technology had moved on, and most ships now used steam power rather than sail power larger ships, especially those with side wheels and greater drafts and displacements prevented the larger modern cargo and passenger vessels from fitting through the canal. To simplify the problem, the Welland Canal had outgrown its usefulness. But the need for a canalRead 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 →

The Welland Canal had brought expansion and growth to the Niagara Region, along the canal work camps flourished into settlements, villages, and towns. But the canal remained under private control, and to maintain the wooden infrastructure they needed income from ship traffic and the fees paid to transit the canal. The trouble with the wooden structures is that they were getting old and starting to fall apart and by the start of the troubles of 1837 many of the locks could no longer function. And with the canal at standstill ships could not transit therefore no money would come to the canal, so the locksRead More →