Mammoth ships are lifted 99.36 metres using simple gravity at the Welland Canal

Welland Canal

Welland Canal photo courtesy St. Catharines Tourism

St. Catharines, Ontario – It’s an engineering wonder and an awesome sight: monster ships as long as two football fields (up to 225 metres/740 ft) are raised or lowered 99.36 metres (325 ft) using nothing more than simple gravity.

The first Welland Canal was built 150 years ago as a detour around Niagara Falls for ships that needed to travel from the St. Lawrence River to the centre of North America.

The current 43.4 km (26 mile), eight-lock canal is the fourth version between Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, but it works on the same simple principal as the first canals. Ships are raised by moving them into locks that are filled with water pouring naturally from the higher Lake Erie down towards Lake Ontario. You can watch it happen at special viewing platforms at Lock 7 in Thorold, and Lock 3 in St. Catharines. Lock 3 also has  the St. Catharines Museum, which shows a 15-minute video of the canal’s history, and has an exhibit on the ‘The Underground Railroad’, which terminated in this region.


Welland Canals Centre Lock 3, 1932 Welland Canals Pkwy St Catharines, Niagara, Ontario


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