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Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal

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The Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal is a canal and set of locks
Lock (water transport)
A lock is a device for raising and lowering boats between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways. The distinguishing feature of a lock is a fixed chamber in which the water level can be varied; whereas in a caisson lock, a boat lift, or on a canal inclined plane, it is...

 linking Lake Saint-Louis
Lake Saint-Louis
Lake Saint-Louis, or in French , is a lake in extreme southwestern Quebec, Canada, adjoining the Island of Montreal at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers.The lake is bounded to the north and east by the Island of Montreal...

 and Lake of Two Mountains at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue
Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec
Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is a town located at the western tip of the Island of Montreal in southwestern Quebec, Canada. It is the second oldest community in Montreal's West Island, having been founded as a parish in 1703...

, the very western-most point of Montreal Island
Island of Montreal
The Island of Montreal , in extreme southwestern Quebec, Canada, is located at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. It is separated from Île Jésus by the Rivière des Prairies....

, Quebec, Canada. It is a National Historic Site of Canada.

The canal is located in the eastern channel of the Ottawa River
Ottawa River
The Ottawa River is a river in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. For most of its length, it now defines the border between these two provinces.-Geography:...

 around Perrot Island (Île Perrot
Île Perrot
Île Perrot is an island west of the island of Montreal in the Canadian province of Quebec. Part of the Hochelaga Archipelago, the island lies between Lake Saint-Louis and Lac des Deux-Montagnes....

) where shallow rapids form a natural obstacle. It forms part of the waterway system that allows boating access from the Saint Lawrence River
Saint Lawrence River
The Saint Lawrence is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin...

 up the Ottawa River to the City of Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

, and even to Kingston
Kingston, Ontario
Kingston, Ontario is a Canadian city located in Eastern Ontario where the St. Lawrence River flows out of Lake Ontario. Originally a First Nations settlement called "Katarowki," , growing European exploration in the 17th Century made it an important trading post...

 via the Rideau Canal
Rideau Canal
The Rideau Canal , also known as the Rideau Waterway, connects the city of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on the Ottawa River to the city of Kingston, Ontario on Lake Ontario. The canal was opened in 1832 as a precaution in case of war with the United States and is still in use today, with most of its...


The canal and locks are used today exclusively for recreational boating. The site is a popular tourist location that also offers mooring places, picnic tables, boat launch, and park land. Guided tours and interpretative panels are provided by Parks Canada. Together with the boardwalk
A boardwalk, in the conventional sense, is a wooden walkway for pedestrians and sometimes vehicles, often found along beaches, but they are also common as paths through wetlands, coastal dunes, and other sensitive environments....

 and restaurants and cafes that line the canal, the site drew 181,000 visitors and 23,000 boaters in 2003, making it the second busiest canal and locks in Quebec. The dimensions of the lock are 54.86 metres (180 ft) long, 12.19 metres (40 ft) wide, and 2.74 metres (9 ft) deep at the sills. It lifts boats by 1 metres (3.3 ft).


Prior to the existence of the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal, there had already been since 1816 a canal and lock in the channel on the west side of Perrot Island, facing Dorion. But this canal was privately owned, with its owners therefore having a monopoly over the shipping going upstream. Other merchants, opposing the unfair practice, petitioned the government to build a public lock at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.

The first plans for the canal were drawn up in 1831. But because of financial, administrative, and political setbacks, it would not be until 1840 that construction began on the canal. It was completed on November 14, 1843. The original locks were 58 metres (190.3 ft) long, 14 metres (45.9 ft) wide, and 2 metres (6.6 ft) deep at the sills.
The canal and locks proved to be a major impetus to colonization and commerce. Soon after it opened, it was used by many people travelling upstream to settle in Upper Canada, and it attracted a large amount of commercial traffic. This, as well as the lock's approach that was difficult to navigate, necessitated a second lock. Following the recommendations of the Canals Commission in 1870, a second lock was built directly east and parallel to the first one, with work completed in 1882. The original locks were used less and less until 1909 when they were abandoned.

Since the completion of the second canal, the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal and the other canals of the Ottawa River were mainly used to transport wood to Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

. This commerce flourished until 1919 whereafter the logging industry went into decline. From 1920 to 1963, shipments of sand, gravel and petroleum products became the principal freight transported. In 1914, electric lighting was installed, and in 1923, the gate mechanisms were electrified. But the railroad supplanted water transportation and the canal lost most of its importance. In the 1960s, a period of modernization saw the removal of many old service buildings, such as the toll collector’s residence and office, smithy, carpentry shop, storehouse, and tool shed. The lock’s old wooden gates were replaced with steel ones and in 1964, the old 1843 canal and locks were completely backfilled.

In 1972, the canal, locks, and banks were designated a National Historic Site and came under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada
Parks Canada
Parks Canada , also known as the Parks Canada Agency , is an agency of the Government of Canada mandated to protect and present nationally significant natural and cultural heritage, and foster public understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative...

. Because of the canal's transportation and historic roles, it is managed in accordance with the Department of Transport Act and the Historic Sites and Monuments Act.

See also

  • Carillon Canal
    Carillon Canal
    The Carillon Canal is a National Historic Site in Saint-André-d'Argenteuil, Quebec, Canada. It preserves the historic Carillon Canal that was first built in the 1830s to facilitate travel on the Ottawa River...

    , canal on the Ottawa River, also a National Historic Site
  • Grenville Canal, historic canal on the Ottawa River

External links