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Labelled with ICRA

Since 1979 logo

book cover

Spring 2009
9 X 12 inches, 120 pages

ISBN 978-1-897323-75-5
Out of print

The St. Lawrence Seaway

Fifty Years and Counting

D'Arcy Jenish

The opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in the spring of 1959 was a momentous occasion. This system of locks, canals, shipping channels, and bridges between Montreal and the Ontario riverside town of Iroquois, 150 kilometres to the west, ranks as one of greatest public works in Canadian history and one of the largest construction projects in the postwar era.

Built in four years at a cost of $475 million, the seaway completely transformed the marine-transportation industry in Canada. It allowed ocean-going vessels to sail 3,680 kilometres inland, or halfway across the country. They could travel from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario, through the previously constructed Welland Canal that links lakes Ontario and Erie and, from there, all the way to Thunder Bay, Duluth, Green Bay, Chicago, and other ports of the upper Great Lakes. The seven locks of the seaway and the eight of the Welland Canal are capable of lifting 740-foot-long ships from sea level to an elevation of 182 metres on Lake Superior, the equivalent of sixty storeys.

When the seaway opened, on April 25, 1959, the Queen called it "one of the outstanding engineering accomplishments of modern times," while US President Dwight Eisenhower declared it "a magnificent symbol to the entire world of the achievements possible to democratic nations peacefully working together for the common good."

The seaway celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2009 and, by any yardstick, it is a half-century worthy of observation.

"We're celebrating because the seaway has been an enormous success," says Richard Corfe, president of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. "It is one of the safest and most reliable waterways in the world."


Darcy Jenish


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