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First Welland Canal (Port Dalhousie)


Left: Newspaper announcement publicizing the opening of the Welland Canal in 1829 (Wikipedia); Right (top and bottom): Timbers from Lock 1 of the First Welland Canal, excavated in late 2008 by archaeologist Jon Jouppien under contract to the City of St. Catharines (Port Reporter v.4 no.10, Nov 2008).


Hidden in the heart of old Port Dalhousie under roadways, paths, and parkland is the long-buried channel of the First Welland Canal, built in 1829. Confusingly, the first canal ran at right angles to the present-day navigation channel in Port Dalhousie Harbour. The small rectangular inlet in the harbour wall near the entrance to the main parking lot is approximately where the First Welland Canal actually entered Port Dalhouse Harbour, which was a shallow marshy area that could not be accessed by ship from the north in that day.



The first canal ran at right angles to the existing seawall, across the south edge of the main parking lot, and continued in a straight line just south of the present-day carousel building and playground in Lakeside Park. The entrance to the canal was on the Lake Ontario shoreline about 300 metres overland to the northwest, at the southern end of the beach.


Above: Approximate trajectory of the First Welland Canal in Port Dalhousie. It ran east-west,
perpendicular to the current channel, roughly paralleling the southern edge of the main parking
lot. In the west, it entered Lake Ontario just south of the carousel, and ran east-west to the
indentation in the concrete seawall that is visible in the present-day channel (below). Images 
courtesy Google Maps Street View.


Lock 1, made of wood, was located several metres in from the shore. It was unearthed in 2008 by archaeologist Jon Jouppien, under contract to the City of St. Catharines, and was quickly re-buried once its location was confirmed. The First Welland Canal was used from the waterway’s opening in 1829 until it was replaced by the Second Welland Canal in 1841.


Timbers of Lock 1 of the First Welland Canal (ca. 1829)

Timbers of Lock 1 of the First Welland Canal (ca. 1829), still in
amazingly good condition given their age.
Image courtesy the
Port Reporter, November 2008.


The First Welland Canal memorial comemorates the construction of the canal that allowed ships to travel between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.  It lies on the site where the canal entered the mouth of the Twelve Mile Creek.  Because of increased shipping volume and the need for more ship repairs, a second canal was built and the original canal was landfilled.


Lakeside Park and the beautiful antique hand carved Lakeside Park Carousel now occupy this area.


TripClip Audio File

(more about TripClips...)








Click to play or download First Welland Canal TripClip (mp3 format).

This destination is also part of the TripClip tour 'Touring the Twelve.'




From Toronto:
QEW exit 51 Seventh Street (St. Catharines)
Left on Seventh to Lakeshore Road
Right onto Lakeshore Road which will become Main Street. Follow the signage to Port Dalhousie.


From Niagara/U.S.:
QEW exit 47 Ontario Street (St. Catharines)
Left on Ontario Street
Left on Lakeport Road and follow the signage to Port Dalhousie.

Further Information

Welland Canal Preservation Association (1986). Historic Port Dalhousie. The Association: St. Catharines.


Ownership & Management

City of St. Catharines


First Welland Canal Memorial
Lakeport Road and Lock Street
Port Dalhousie, Ontario
Municipality City of St. Catharines


(905) 688-5601 ext. 1927

GPS Co-ordinates

Latitude 43.203318015472
Longitude -79.267337378
UTM easting 640761.31
UTM northing 4784850.6


Parks and Recreation
City of St. Catharines
320 Geneva Street
St. Catharines, Ontario
L2R 7C2
Tel (905) 688-5601 ext. 1927
Email rcsrentalinfo@stcatharines.ca

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