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For more than 30 years, Canada and the US tried to come to an agreement to build a huge navigational channel linking the Atlantic Ocean to all five Great Lakes. This seaway, made up of a system of canals, locks, and dredged waterways, extends a distance of nearly 2,500 miles, from the Atlantic Ocean through the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Duluth, Minnesota, on Lake Superior.

The economic case was clear but for political reasons, including agressive lobbying from transport owners and the infamous “Teamsters Union”, the US would not commit and the project, which was also designed to provide hydro electric power generation, seemed doomed.

Then in 1954 Canadian Prime Minister Leslie Frost lost his patience and “asked” the U.S. to step aside so that Canada could go it alone.

Five years later, on 26th June 1959 in a ceremony presided over by the heads of state of the US and Canada (President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II) the St. Lawrence Seaway was officially opened. In fact the D’Iberville  had become the first ship to actually pass through the canal in April of 1959.

The construction of the St Lawrence Seaway cost $470 million, almost all of which was paid for by the Canadian government.

Since its official opening more than two billion tons of cargo, with an estimated worth of more than $300 billion, have moved along its canals and channels. The economic effect on the mid west of Canada and the US has been nothing other than positive. However the opening of the seaway is blamed for making the Erie Canal obsolete and setting off the severe economic decline of several cities in upstate New York including Albany (which is the State Capital of New York) and Syracuse.

A remarkable feat of engineering – and a great economic benefit to the otherwise landlocked mid-states of the USA and Canada.
 
 
 

 

 

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