The chain of lakes and rivers used by early North American explorers and Canadian fur traders has evolved into the unique and efficient water transportation route, the St. Lawrence Seaway. Before the potential of these inland waters could be fully realized, several turbulent sections located at key points had to be overcome or by-passed. The falls and rapids of the Niagara River presented the major obstacle to an uninterrupted waterway to the American heartland. Until 1829, the only route from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie included a lengthy portage around Niagara Falls from Queenston to Chippawa Creek.
To circumvent nature’s wonder, a man-made wonder was required. The Welland Canal, with its eight large locks, was built to fulfill this need. This canal system, the western section of the St. Lawrence Seaway, ranks as one of the outstanding engineering feats of the twentieth century.
The all-Canadian Welland Canal is the first segment of the modern Seaway to have been built. It connects two of the Great Lakes (Ontario and Erie) and forms an integral part of the deep waterway that allows large lakers and ocean vessels to navigate to and from the heart of North America.