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The Welland Canals and their Communities

The Welland Canals and their Communities: Engineering, Industrial, and Urban Transformation

Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 512
  • Book Info
    The Welland Canals and their Communities
    Book Description:

    An examination of the role and contributions of the four Welland Canals to the development of Niagara Peninsula communities.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8254-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Maps and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  6. Introduction: The Welland Canal within the World Experience of Canals
    (pp. 3-22)

    The Welland Canals (map 1, on page 4) express many of the forms and types of canals that have been developed since antiquity to improve upon the navigation abilities of natural rivers (Hadfield 1986). Canals conceived for the purposes of trade have changed the landscape through which they pass by their introduction of novel features such as the channel, its water supply, and the deposition of excavated materials. They introduce new crossing points and modify the earlier patterns of settlement by providing an impetus for development in the communities that follow the canal. Canals offer a fertile location for the...

  7. Part 1: The Development and Impact on Settlement of the First and Second Canals to the Early 1850s

    • 1 The First Canal: From Inception to Completion in 1829
      (pp. 25-45)

      The English proverb ‘Many a slip between cup and lip’ may be applied to the achievement of the First Welland Canal that opened in 1829. The alternative proposition is that ‘if anything can go wrong, it will,’ for the canal as achieved bore little relation to the route that had been planned and intended. The history of building the First Canal shows that many Fortuitous Acts of Fate (FAOFs) intervened to change the course of the route and the form of construction. With hindsight, these FAOFs also influenced all the subsequent urban, industrial, and community events along the canal system....

    • 2 The First Canal Reaches Lake Erie, and a Second Canal Is Constructed
      (pp. 46-59)

      The First Canal was soon extended to Lake Erie. This new length opened in 1833, but the inadequacies of construction and the costs of improvement soon led to several important changes, the first of many to the canal. In 1837, the government authorized the purchase of the Welland Canal Company shares from its stockholders and, after the Union of Upper and Lower Canada in 1841, the Second Canal was constructed by the Province of Canada along broadly the same route as the first venture. This was essentially an enlarged and improved version of its predecessor, though stone locks replaced the...

    • 3 The Regional Significance of the Canal for Pioneer Life
      (pp. 60-88)

      Many drastic and broad-ranging changes were introduced to the pioneer world through the course of canal construction and again when the canal opened. The workers on the project had to be housed and fed, and the presence of Irish labourers contributed strongly to the advance of the Roman Catholic church in a former Protestant locality. The canal had to be administered, repaired, and maintained. The pattern of roads was augmented, and bridges were added to the pre-existing system. Agriculture was improved and advanced, and new sites with water-power opportunities were created in locations other than within the natural drainage areas...

    • 4 The Canal Settlements by the Early 1850s
      (pp. 89-130)

      By 1850 the line of canal settlements between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie had replaced the former pioneer concentration along the Niagara River. William Hamilton Merritt was correct when, at the sod-turning ceremony in 1824, he avowed: ‘This canal ... will afford the best and the most numerous situations for machinery, within the same distance in America; wet or dry, warm or cold, we always have the same abundant and steady supply of water ... We will mingle in the bustle and active scenes of business; our commodities will be enhanced in value, and a general tide of prosperity will...

  8. Part 2: The Second and Third Canals and Their Communities from the 1850s to the 1910s

    • 5 An Expanding Infrastructure of Development
      (pp. 133-164)

      The period from the early 1850s to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 involved the active years of the Second Canal and the opening of the Third Canal in 1887. Other factors included the arrival of three railways during the 1850s and later routes during the 1870s. By 1914 an interurban streetcar system also interconnected the canal communities and linked them across the Niagara River into the American system.

      After Canada became a nation in 1867, protective tariffs shielded industry at the time when a strong new transcontinental nation was being established on an east-west axis across...

    • 6 The Changing Character of the Canal Communities
      (pp. 165-182)

      Several features of municipal life illustrate the changing character of the Welland Canal communities as the nineteenth century progressed into the twentieth century. Starting with administrative structure and population size, there are the novel industrial circumstances expressed by the rise of larger-sized companies and the growth of service trades and enterprises that minister to the increasing population. The latter has two aspects, the absolute growth in the size of the population and the growing per capita demands of that population for services as technology and the requirements of society advance.

      The incorporation of a place as an administrative village, town,...

    • 7 Two Lake Ports, and the Eastern and Western Arms of the Canal
      (pp. 183-207)

      Port Dalhousie and Port Colborne each advanced as the canal changed from the Second to the Third Canal system, but considerable differences in growth and opportunity existed. By contrast, the ports at the eastern and western arms and the small centres along the Feeder Canal declined from their earlier apex of activity during the period of the Second Canal. They survived as a reflection of the past and retained their canal ethos through their earlier years of association with the waterway.

      The two lake ports were not identical twins. Each might have been abandoned as the Second Canal changed to...

    • 8 The Inland Centres of Welland, Allanburg, and Port Robinson
      (pp. 208-227)

      Three communities developed along the central reaches of the canal. Welland, the largest, expanded where the canal crossed the Welland River. After it became the county town, its new administrative activities and status provided a further encouragement to growth. Even so, the transition to industrial development and large-scale foreign immigration did not occur until after the turn of the century. By contrast, Port Robinson and Allanburg remained small communities, the former dwindling from a greater importance, whereas the latter never advanced.

      Because of its several water barriers Welland was a more segmented urban entity than any other location along the...

    • 9 Across the Niagara Escarpment from Thorold to Merritton
      (pp. 228-245)

      At Thorold and Merritton, where the First and Second Canals crossed the Niagara Escarpment, the locks were most numerous and the greatest amount of water power of anywhere along the canal system was available. The urban landscape became one long series of mill races, mill ponds, and tail races. When through navigation followed the rerouted Third Canal after 1887, both centres lost their flow of traffic as this marine activity was transferred to the farmland on the eastern urban outskirts. Even so, the two communities retained their water-power capabilities from the Second Canal into the era of the Third Canal,...

    • 10 St Catharines: Industrial Giant of the Canal Communities
      (pp. 246-266)

      St Catharines continued to expand as the major urban-industrial centre on the canal during the railway era of development (map 11). By 1907 it was recorded: ‘The building of this great waterway [the Welland Canal] has been responsible for the erection of the beautiful, busy, and prosperous city of St Catharines ... As a manufacturing city St Catharines is one of the most important in the Dominion, a fact due to the magnificent water power she has in the Welland Canal, as well as the electric power derived from DeCew Falls. There are at present more than one hundred industrial...

  9. Part 3: The Third and Fourth Canals Reflect Community Advance from 1914 to the 1960s

    • 11 The Achievement and Character of the Fourth Canal
      (pp. 269-300)

      The year 1932 witnessed the much-delayed opening of the Fourth Canal. The First World War and then government priorities for the works of Ontario Hydro at Queenston had intervened. Until the 1930s many small coal-burning vessels steamed through the canal, leaving raw materials and receiving finished goods from the industries that lined the canal banks. The canal was an integral part of the expanding industrial and municipal economies, and its vessels were supplied and serviced from onshore as was required to meet their marine needs.

      After 1932, much was to change, neither immediately nor suddenly but gradually and imperceptibly. The...

    • 12 An Interlude in the Process of Urban Growth
      (pp. 301-326)

      The chapter heading here refers to the transition period in the growth of settlement along the canal between the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, when transport by rail was dominant and the motor vehicle had just started to appear on the urban horizon, and 1959 after the Second World War, when the railway had started to decline and the motor vehicle to predominate. Regionally, the development and growing use of hydroelectricity, the diminished use of the Second Canal as a source of power for industry, the increasing capacity but not the expansion of the railway network, and...

    • 13 The Emergence of a Linked Urban-Industrial Complex
      (pp. 327-356)

      The overall situation between 1914 and 1959 was that of industrial growth from the foundations that had been laid over the previous century. Hydroelectricity from DeCew Falls and Niagara Falls was available on an abundant and cheaper basis than elsewhere. The regional N.S.&T. streetcar network interconnected the canal towns. The Third and then the Fourth Canal functioned strongly within the marine trading patterns on the Great Lakes. Both fostered development within the canal zone and provided an unrestricted source of power to municipalities and for industrial purposes.

      The railway networks that crossed the canal connected directly with the expanding urban...

  10. Part 4: The St Lawrence Seaway Authority and the Welland Canals Corridor of Development, Post-1960

    • 14 The Welland Canal as Part of the St Lawrence Seaway
      (pp. 359-382)

      The Fourth Canal became part of the St Lawrence Seaway when this opened in 1959, and was then steadily improved. It was first intended that the single locks be twinned and work started on this project, but this scheme was superseded by proposals for the construction of bypass channels around St Catharines and Welland. The land was purchased for both and has remained under federal ownership, but only the By-Pass Channel at Welland was constructed; the abandoned length of the Fourth Canal through the centre of that city was then gradually transformed into a Recreational Waterway. Meantime, a rehabilitation program...

    • 15 The Trading Scene and the Regional Economy
      (pp. 383-400)

      As each earlier canal has been followed by industrial expansion and as this pattern was the prognostication upon completion of the Seaway, the expectations were high that expansion would occur in the communities along the Fourth Canal. These dreams were not fulfilled, even though an increasing volume of trade passed through the canal in larger-sized vessels. Even so, most vessels stopped neither to load nor unload, but shore facilities for repairs and servicing were still required and the canal remained an important component of the regional economy.

      Trade through the canal increased until 1979, but then declined rapidly. Meantime, tolls...

    • 16 An Urban-Industrial Corridor of Development
      (pp. 401-423)

      Urban and industrial development within the canal corridor took place within a changing structure of municipal government as the former small canal communities grew in size, amalgamated, and became cities. Regional government was established in 1970 over the corridor and its surrounding area in the region. Within this context, the major direct manufacturing and service contributions of the canal are recognized, with tourism being increasingly viewed as an important new economic incentive for the canal corridor.

      The physical expansion of the canal communities into and across their adjacent rural areas continued during the 19505 (Krushelnicki 1994). The city of St...

    • 17 The Canals as Heritage and Amenity
      (pp. 424-443)

      The canals as heritage and as an open space-recreational resource are themes of mixed success since the 19605 in the development process. Advances and delays, defeats and successful accomplishments will each be described in this chapter, to be followed by case studies of the abandoned Fourth Canal at Welland in chapter 18 and progress towards the achievement of a lake-to-lake Welland Canals Parkway in chapter 19.

      Amenity – ‘concerned with the essential pleasantness and aesthetic qualities of the urban environment as a satisfactory place in which to live, work, and spend one’s leisure time’ (Schwilgin 1974) – provides one important...

    • 18 The Reuse of the Abandoned Fourth Canal at Welland
      (pp. 444-457)

      The transfer in ownership and management from an active international waterway to a passive urban recreational-open space resource is no easy task. It involves many distinct and often competing interests within government, and also differences in attitude as the various possibilities are examined and made subject to public scrutiny. This chapter introduces the administrative, technical, and civil aspects of change at Welland upon completion of the By-Pass. The progress or rejection of proposals for development along the abandoned channel were complicated and time consuming. Each had to weave its way through the interlocking maze of departments at the four levels...

    • 19 Towards a Welland Canals Parkway
      (pp. 458-471)

      When in 1970 regional government was established across Niagara, planning, tourism, and economic development became functioning departments in the new municipality, and a series of reports studied the old and the modern canals for their potential. Each noted the virtues of a parkway system along the old and the new canals, but only limited action has followed. A new possibility arose when the Seaway Authority announced the sale of land surplus to their navigational requirements, which reawakened interest in the parkway possibility, leading by 1995 to a regional-plan policy amendment to reserve space along the canal for a parkway.


  11. Epilogue: The Changing Canal Scene
    (pp. 472-490)

    All aspects of the Welland Canals have changed dramatically over the years since their introduction to Niagara’s landscape in 1829. This truism applies to the canal as an engineering feat, to its trading flows and patterns, to its role in community development, and to the character of these communities. Edmund Spenser referred to ‘the ever-whirling wheel of Change,’ and Benjamin Disraeli wrote: ‘Change is inevitable. In a progressive country change is constant.’ Against the background of William Hamilton Merritt and the canal’s border location, the more notable examples of change are summarized in this concluding section.

    Verses by Howard Engel...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 491-518)
  13. Credits
    (pp. 519-520)
  14. Index
    (pp. 521-535)