Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Locks at Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada

Sault Ste Marie, Ontario is a pretty lakeside city, but I couldn’t talk about it without including something about the locks, that the ‘Soo’ as it is commonly called, is famous for. We had hoped to get a tour of it but the company that gave the boat tours wasn’t operating so we took a walk over there to see them for ourselves. That ‘walk’, which became a trek of its’own, will have to be on another page….. but back to the locks……

Bridge taking us over to the river walk

We parked and with camera in hand followed St. Mary’s River Boardwalk towards the locks to see what we could see, not being sure what was all there. It was a nice sunny day and it was quite a walk, but ended up to be far more than we expected. There is a parking lot at the locks for anyone that might want to walk less.

Administration and Tourist Center

It all began with ..………..

The North West Company Post was first built on the river for fur trading in 1791. With St. Mary’s rapids there, the post was eventually moved to the present site in 1797. The post eventually included storehouses, the canal and lock, a sawmill and a portage road.

The post was destroyed in 1814 during the American invasion but the Nor’westers built almost immediately then in 1821 the post became the Hudson’s Bay Company after the two rival companies united.

One of the early buildings

When the canal was being built, it was a very isolated community and they had to be fairly self-sufficient. The buildings were for storing spare parts and equipment that the mechanics, carpenters and laborers would use. These were stores and blacksmith shops in those days, but I didn’t find which of the buildings left was used for those shops.

Canada's locks

The Sault Ste Marie lock was opened in 1895. It is one of eight locks in the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence System and was the last one to link all the Canadian waterways from the Atlantic Ocean to the Lakehead. It was the first lock in the world to be operated by electricity.

Locks at Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

Today the Canadian locks are used for leisure boats and cruises. The American lock is used for all others. We didn’t go over to see the American side but this shows the International Bridge which connects the Soo with the American Sault Ste Marie..

We then crossed the swing bridge to the other side to see St. Mary’s Rapids. On our way thru the nature paths and wooden foot paths, we saw a whole world of beavers, ducks and heron. I will definitely have to post some of those pictures, too.

So about that trek…….. follow us to see what we were to see.


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