Aerial view of Lachine canal, looking East, about 1920.
55. The Lachine Canal

The project for a canal to circumvent Sault-Saint-Louis (Lachine Rapids) dates back to the very early days of Montréal.

It took until the early 19th century for the dream to become reality. 

For Montréal-area businessmen aspiring to make their city a hub of North American trade, a canal at Lachine became vitally important. Among them was John Grant (1749-1817), a prominent Lachine entrepreneur who dominated waterway transport between Montréal and Lake Ontario. Work on the canal began in 1821 and was completed in 1825.

As the gateway to a network of canals linking the Atlantic to the heart of the continent, the Lachine Canal helped make Montréal the birthplace of the Canadian manufacturing industry.

Twice enlarged
The original canal accommodated only small, flat-bottomed sailboats. As traffic and tonnage increased, it had to be enlarged twice, with construction in1843-1848 and then in 1873-1885.

With the final enlargement, Lachine saw a burst of activity as factories and businesses (inns, hotels, stores) sprang up at the head of the canal.