The Saint Lawrence SeawayThe Saint Lawrence Seaway

© Ministère des transports du Québec

On June 26, 1959, Queen Elisabeth, U.S. President Eisenhower and the Prime Minister of Canada, John Diefenbaker, inaugurated the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

Because of its rapids, the river was difficult to navigate between Montreal and the Great Lakes. 3,700 km long, the new seaway allowed ships from the Atlantic to penetrate the heart of our continent. It served a territory larger than Europe, inhabited by nearly 90 million people, and allowed the creation of thousands of jobs in countless industries in both Canada and the United States.

More than 500 Canadian and American engineers directed the construction of the locks, the digging of canals, the building of bridges and the new roads and railroads that would connect the ports to its network.

The seaway, which took five years and over a billion dollars to complete, has made it possible to transport more than 2.5 billion tons of goods worth nearly $375 billion since its opening.

Between Montreal and Lake Ontario, shipbuilding yards constructed long, thin barges to transport iron ore from the Côte-Nord to American steelworks, which then returned to the Great Lakes carrying various grains and manufactured products. However, due to foreign competition, these shipyards were converted in the 1980s to produce turbines, locomotives and drilling platforms.

In 2009, the Saint Lawrence Seaway celebrated its 50th anniversary. Its modern form provides a good example of cooperation between neighbouring countries.

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