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Visiting Montreal, Quebec: Remembering the Historic Contribution of the Canal de Lachine / Lachine Canal

Updated on April 8, 2020
Flag of Quebec
Flag of Quebec | Source
Canal Lachine / Lachine Canal
Canal Lachine / Lachine Canal | Source

A hugely significant, historic waterway

[I visited the area near the confluence of the Canal de Lachine / Lachine Canal with the port of Montréal on the Saint-Laurent / Saint Lawrence in early 2020.]

For centuries the Rapides de Lachine / Lachine Rapids, at île de Montréal / Montreal Island on the Saint-Laurent / Saint-Lawrence were a huge obstacle to travel and trade. The building and progressive deepening of the 14 kilometre Canal de Lachine / Lachine Canal thus made a huge impact on the life of Montreal and what is now Quebec.

With the opening of the Canal in 1825 came a gradual lessening of merchants' trade dependence on the port facilities of the Ville de Québec / Quebec City; indeed, it is sometimes held that even Halifax, Nova Scotia lost out to Montréal in this respect.

The course of the Canal was somewhat by the former existence of a lake (known as Lac à la Loutre), in marshland which was drained; formerly the locality had been noted for its cultivation by indigenous people and by the presence of many beavers.

The Canal was deepened and enlarged; and Montreal became a huge port city, with trade and immigration soaring in the course of the 19th century.

The Canal remained open until 1970, when it had become obsolete because of the creation of the Voie maritime du Saint-Laurent / Saint Lawrence Seaway.

In 1978, the Canal was acquired by the Federal Government; it had been created the Lieu historique national du Canal-de-Lachine / Lachine Canal National Historic Site of Canada in 1929.

In 1977 a cycle path was completed along the Canal's banks. In 2002 the Canal was reopened for recreational craft.

In recent years, some neighbourhoods near the Canal have become sought after areas in real estate terms.

A permanent exhibition on the fur trade has been established at an 1803 stone warehouse, as part of the Lieu historique national du Canal-de-Lachine / Lachine Canal National Historic managed by Parcs Canada / Parks Canada; when circumstances permit, this exhibition is open during the summer months. I myself would like to avail myself of the opportunity to visit this building, which is located at 1255 Boulevard Saint-Joseph, Lachine, QC (1).

April 9, 2020


(1) See also (in French) : ; (in English: ) .

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Lachine Canal, Lachine, QC, circa 1850
Lachine Canal, Lachine, QC, circa 1850 | Source

Also worth seeing

The architectural and cultural attractions of Montreal are too numerous to mention here, but of special note, among many others, are the domed Bonsecours Market (Marché Bonsecours), dating from 1847, which was a venue used to house the Parliament of United Canada, prior to Confederation. The Notre-Dame Basilica (Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal) was built mainly between 1824 and 1829; many Montrealers attend annual performances of Handel's 'Messiah' there. The Olympic Stadium (Stade Olympique) in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district, used for the 1976 Olympics, has the the world's tallest inclined tower, at 175 metres.

Mont-Tremblant (distance: 133 kilometres), in the Laurentian Mountains (Laurentides) is ideal for scenic excursions, golf and skiing; its boutiques attract many shoppers.


How to get there: Air Canada flies to Montreal (Aéroport international Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau de Montréal) from Toronto-Pearson, and from New York-Newark and New York-La Guardia, with wide connections. A number of car rental companies offer service at Montreal-Trudeau airport. VIA Rail maintains regular services with Toronto and Windsor. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Canal de Lachine, île de Montréal / Lachine Canal, island of Montreal
Canal de Lachine, île de Montréal / Lachine Canal, island of Montreal | Source

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