Welland Canal – As Rarely Seen

By Mike Davis

An unusual event happened on March 9 at the Welland Canal in Niagara Region. A rare behind-the-scenes look at the Welland Canal completely empty of water was offered. In winter, when shipping is closed on the canal, more extensive maintenance is usually done. Water can be drained out of some of the locks, as was done this last winter. People were able to explore an empty Lock 5, and to experience the true immensity of the canal. Led by Sam Pane with engineer Andrew Bator of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, shipping enthusiasts Janey Anderson of Ship Junkies, Bill Salton of Bill Salton Photography, Michael Folsom of St. Lawrence Seaway Shipwatchers, and Jim McRae of Griffintown Media were some of those who toured the facility.

Lock 4 looking north toward St. Catharines/Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Garden City Skyway as part of the QEW. The cylinder structure on the left is a surge tank and part of the Canal’s own hydro-electric generator that powers the Canal. Note: the Canal does connect to the grid and buys or sells energy as needed.
The downstream gate of Lock 5.
 Inside a mechanical room that actuates the lock gates. All of the operations are done remotely.
Hydraulic actuator for opening and closing the gates.
Looking south to the downstream Lock 6 gates. The yellow beam with the cable is a Ship Arrestor which is used to protect the lock gates from runaway ships.

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