Welland Canal

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(PD) Image: J.D. Kelly
Schooner Ann and Jane, on the first transit of the first Welland Canal, in 1829.

There have been four Welland Canals, connecting Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.[1]

specifications of the various Welland Canals[1]
of locks
length beam draft maximum
1829 40 33.5 m 6.7 m 2.4 m
1844 27 45.7 m 8.1 m 2.7 m
1887 26 82.3 m 13.7 m 4.3 m 3,000
1932 8 225.5 m 23.8 m 8 m 32,000 tons

The current canal has pairs of locks, permitting vessels to proceed in both directions simultaneously. Seven pairs of northern locks are situatated on the Niagara Escarpment, and raise or lower vessels a total of 99.5 meters. The locks take eleven minutes to fill or empty. The eighth lock is at the Southern end of the canal. It is used to raise or lower vessels the small amounts to the current level of the lake -- which can vary.

There are no locks needed to travel from Lake Erie to Lake St Clair, to Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Vessels must transit one lock to travel from Lake Huron to Lake Superior. There are several parallel locks on the St Mary's River. The largest lock is significantly larger than the locks on the Welland Canal. There are approximately two dozen vessels restricted to the upper lakes.