Tuesday, September 8, 2009

St. Lawrence Seaway ~ Brockville, Ontario

We love rv’ing without the limits of making reservations. We enjoy the freedom of being able to stop wherever it looks like it would be a great place to visit. That just does not always work out but some things are just meant to be.
We were on our way to Ottawa, Ontario to visit the capital of Canada and looking forward to that when we stopped at Brockville, Ontario for groceries. We’d been driving inland from the river and hadn’t seen it yet so hoped we might get a good look at the St. Lawrence Seaway during our stop. A very friendly local lady in the grocery store lineup overheard us ask for directions to the water and she offered to lead us there. Away we went, following her on a route we’re sure we’d never have found on our own.
Once we saw this enchanting downtown historic area with the parks, marina and St. Lawrence River, we knew we’d like to stay longer to enjoy this community more, and some things are just meant to be!
Marina at Tunnel Bay ~ Brockville, Ontario
This marina is one of several in the area of Brockville, Ontario and sits right in the harbor at Tunnel Bay, protected from the St. Lawrence river by Blockhouse Island. This is eye candy to all of us who love the water and enjoy it from the comfort of leisure boats, sailboats or anything else that floats. This area is very boater friendly and offers port after port along the shores of the St. Lawrence River. There are lots of restaurants, parks, resorts, museums, golf courses, retail shops all accessible by boat.

Blockhouse Island Lighthouse
As we all know, the lighthouse is there for a purpose. When it is dark or foggy, the light will beacon those coming into port for safe landings. Lighthouses come in all sizes and there are some variances but I take pictures of them all. This was the first one we saw on this RV adventure, with many more to come in the Maritimes and East Coast.

Blockhouse Island Plane
This plane monument sits in the center of the park on Blockhouse Island. It was placed here in 1968 and dedicated by the citizens of Brockville and 426 R.C.A.F.A. to the memory of all the Allied Airmen who gave their lives to the cause of freedom.

Sailing the blue waters of the St. Lawrence Seaway
Sailing is just one of the many ways to enjoy the waterway in Brockville, the Yacht Club has sailboat races every Tuesday and Thursday evenings during the summer months.

We’re looking across the water to Morristown, New York, which isn’t far away. There is a bridge east of Brockville giving access to the USA other than crossing the water.
There are several sunken ships in the area that make it one of the best diving areas. The water can be as warm as 21C in mid to late summer months. Most of the 200 wrecks are over 30m (100’) but some are only 4.6m (15’) deep and can be seen.

Large freighters pass this way several times a day.
The St. Lawrence Seaway which links the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River with the Atlantic Ocean, began construction in 1783. The waterway consisting of locks, canals and channels is mostly used for bulk cargo today. Approximately 44 million ton of cargo moves though the seaway annually, 27% is grain and 47% is iron ore. We saw this one approaching in the early morning fog and waited several minutes to get this picture. This was why the St. Lawrence Seaway was built and I needed to get a picture of it.

Canada’s oldest railroad tunnel
The Grand Trunk Railroad Brockville to Montreal started in 1855. The tunnel, which was the first tunnel built in Canada runs under the city for 1/3 mile. They began the construction in 1854 and it was completed in 1860 to give Brockville access to the riverfront. It is now blocked off from getting any further into the tunnel than what we can see and the rails come out into the park. It would have been quite a feat at the time.

Historic downtown Brockville, Ontario
Brockville began as a land grant to William Buell in 1785. He was a United Empire Loyalist having served 33 years in one of the British Militia units and had fought the British-American war of 1776-1783. It seems he had a vision and sold town lots to new arrivals and gave land for the Presbyterian Church in 1811. It had different names to begin with but became Brockville after Major-General Isaac Brock, a hero of war who died in the war of 1812.

The government of Upper Canada recognized the importance of the town and by 1830 it was one of few villages in the province that sent its own parliament representative to Upper Canada legislature. It then became the first community to be granted self-governing and the first to elect village council, pass local ordinances and raise money for local improvements by taxing its residents. Aha, now we know where that came from!

Beautiful fountain in Court House Green

The Courthouse was opened in 1810 and the open space around it was developed into what is now known as Brockville’s Court House Green, considered to be one of the finest urban spaces in Canada. The town now has a population of about 40,000 people who share their pride in one of the oldest in Ontario, known as the “City of Churches” with steeples gracing the downtown skyline, and just a great place to visit.

Brockville is also known as “City of the 1000 Islands” and we couldn’t leave without taking a cruise among the islands. Join us on our cruise by clicking here.


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