Welland Canal

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Welland Canal

The Welland Canal is a ship canal that runs 43.4 km from Port Colborne, Ontario on Lake Erie to Port Weller, Ontario on Lake Ontario. It allows ships to avoid Niagara Falls by traversing the Niagara Escarpment. About 40 million tonnes of cargo passes through the canal annually. It also provides water for industry and a small amount of electricity. The canal, part of the St Lawrence Seaway, was named after the Welland River.

The Port Weller (East) end of the canal is 99.5 m lower than the Port Colborne (West) end. There are eight locks, each 24 m by 234 m. The canal is 9 m deep.


The current canal, the fourth, was built between 1913 and 1932. Between the years of 1967 and 1973 a channel was constructed east of the city of Welland, Ontario to help speed ship traffic through the canal and alleviate highway traffic through the rose city. This channel is known as the Welland By-Pass. The first canal, built by William Merritt, was completed in 1833. It was something of a debacle. The poor construction caused problems and it was never profitable. It was eventually bought out by the government of Upper Canada. Along with those of the Cornwall Canal its losses caused financial problems for the Upper Canada government contributing to the 1840 Act of Union. The Welland canal was a major factor in the growth of the city of Montreal. The original canal and its successors allowed goods from Detroit, Michigan, Cleveland, Ohio and other heavily industrialized areas of the United States and Ontario to be shipped to the port of Montreal where they were reloaded onto ocean-going vessels for international shipping.

The completion of the Welland Canal resulted in making the Trent-Severn Waterway (which links Lake Ontario with Lake Huron) all but obsolete as a commercial traffic route for Great Lakes navagation.

Facts and Figures

Maximum Vessel Size:

  • Length: 225.5 m
  • Draft: 8.2 m
  • Height/Above water clearence: 35.5m


  • Size: 24.4 m wide and 261.8 long, depth of 9.1 m
  • Current number of locks: 8
  • Elevation change between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie: 99.4 m
  • Takes on average 11 hours to travel between the 2 lakes.
  • Length of Canal: 43.5 km

First Canal

  • Built: 1829
  • Number Of Locks: 40
  • Width Of Locks: 6.7m
  • Length Of Locks: 33.5m
  • Depth Of Canal: 2.4m

Second Canal

  • Built: 1845
  • Number Of Locks: 27
  • Width Of Locks: 8.1m
  • Length Of Locks: 45.7m
  • Depth Of Canal: 2.7m

Third Canal

  • Built: 1887
  • Number Of Locks: 26
  • Width Of Locks: 13.7m
  • Length Of Locks: 82.3m
  • Depth Of Canal: 4.3m

Fourth Canal

  • Construction occured: 1913 to 1932;
  • Number Of Locks: 8;
  • Width Of Locks: 24.4m;
  • Length Of Locks: 261.8m;
  • Depth Of Canal: 8.2m

List of Locks

Listing the most current configuration (1932 Canal) of 8 Locks

  • Lock 1 - St. Catharines
  • Lock 2 - St. Catharines
  • Lock 3 - St.Catharines (location of Welland Canal Information Centre)
  • Lock 4, 5 - Thorold - The Twinned Flight Locks
  • Lock 6 - Thorold
  • Lock 7 - Thorold -The last lift over the Niagara Escarpment.
  • Lock 8 - Port Colborne

Canal Cross-over Points:

  • 1 - Thorold Tunnel - First tunnel built under the Welland Canal.
  • 2. Townline Tunnel (Train & Car)- South Welland - Opened 1973
  • 3. Main Street Tunnel - Welland - Opened 1972ja:ウェランド運河

pl:Kanał Welland sv:Wellandkanalen


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