8 narrow channels of vital importance

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Linking Lake Ontario with Lake Erie (and thence to the St. Lawrence Seaway), avoiding the Niagara Falls

(the alternative is not to be recommended…..!).

Vessel maximum: 225.5 m (740 ft.) length;
23.7 m (78 ft.) beam;
8.2 m (26 ft., 3 in.) draft;
35.5 m (116.5 ft.) height above water.

27 miles long, it has to lift vessels 326 feet between Lake Ontario (246 ft a.s.l.) to Lake Erie (572 ft a.s.l.)

More than 8,000 vessels use the canal every year.

The average transit time of the 27 miles is about 11 hrs.

On November 30, 1824, William H. Merritt of St. Catharines, Ontario, formed a company to build a canal that would bypass Niagara Falls. It was completed on November 30, 1829.

The fourth and current Welland Canal was mainly constructed between the years of 1913 and 1932. It's depth started out at 7.6 meters but later was deepened to 8.2 meters and currently is 9.1 meters deep. There are 8 locks in total, locks 1 - 7 are each 820' x 80' x 30' in dimensions, but Lock No. 8 is 1,380' (420 mtrs) x 80' x 30'. (Our thanks to Sharlene for correcing some of these measurements !) The canal now runs perpendicular to the Niagara Escarpment and is the most direct route of all three previous canals. The canal starts at the man made Port Weller piers on Lake Ontario and continues south as straight as possible to Port Colborne. Between the years of 1967 and 1973 a channel was constructed east of the city of Welland to help speed ship traffic through the canal and alleviate highway traffic through the rose city. This channel is known as the Welland By-Pass.

Grain, iron ore and coal constitute three of the most significant cargoes carried through the canal.

As the canal operates 24 hours a day, variable intensity lighting has been built along the Whole length.

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