Welcome to the Welland Canal, Ontario
The Welland Canal, one of the amazing man-made wonders of the world, which was originally constructed in 1829 to link Lake Erie with Lake Ontario and offer ships a safe detour around Niagara Falls.
The Welland canal is simply amazing. The first impression of a modern lake-faring freighter is of its overwhelming size. It doesn't seem possible that something of such immense proportions could even be built, much less be able to dock, load, and sail the lakes. Yet dozens of lakers and "salties" (sea going ships) ply up and down the Welland Canal every day, casting enormous shadows as they cruise incongruously past lush orchards and vineyards.
Longer than two football fields and weighing more than 30,000 tonnes, how is it possible to lift these behemoths up and over the cliff face of the Niagara Escarpment? Not only is this done on a routine basis, but the technology is so simple that ships have been routinely hoisted up and down the escarpment for over 150 years.
The Welland Canal has a long and colourful history. Engineers discovered the trick long ago - let gravity and water do the work. The locks are filled and emptied by water flowing downhill from Lake Erie toward Lake Ontario. Many fascinating hours can be spent watching how the gates are opened and shut to control the water flow, allowing ponderous monsters from all corners of the world to sail into the middle of the North American continent.
Explore the great wonder Welland Canal with any number of tours, either by car, by bicycle, or on foot!
Lock 3 Viewing Complex
The St. Catharines Museum and Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame & Museum are located at the Welland Canals Centre at Lock 3. Discover the story of the Four Welland Canals and the City that grew up around them. Watch the video presentation, "Welland Canals: Past and Present", available in French and English. The Community Heritage Gallery features select stories of St. Catharines past and present. Exhibits include a 1912 made in St. Catharines REO automobile and a relief map of the Niagara Peninsula showing the routes of the four canals. The Special Exhibits Gallery hosts traveling exhibits developed by major institutions. Experience the rich legacy of Niagara's African Canadians and the history of the Underground Railroad in the integrated, award-winning "Follow the North Star" exhibit.
The Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame & Museum features displays dedicated to Canada's official national sport and recognizes Ontario's greatest lacrosse players. Watch a video presentation explaining the game and its history and develop your skills at the lacrosse shooting gallery.
From the elevated viewing platform at Lock 3, get a close-up look at ships from around the world and experience the wonder of the Welland Canal Locks. Ships transit the Canal regularly from April to December. Estimated times of arrivals are posted at the Tourist Information Centre.
Merritt's Mercantile, the Museum Gift Shop offers an excellent selection of St. Catharines and Welland Canal souvenirs, books and specialty items. Visit Great Lakes Jakes Snack Bar for ice-cream, coffee and light snacks. There are also picnic areas and washroom facilities on site. The Museum and viewing platform are handicap accessible.
The Welland Canal Museum is open daily, year round. Admission prices are $4.25/adults, $4.00/seniors, $3.25/students, $2.50/children, with a 15% discount for families. The video presentation only is $1.00 per person. Group tours are welcome and we recommend booking no later than 3 weeks in advance. For group rates and to book a tour, call the Booking Secretary at 1-800-305-5134.
The Museum is only 15 minutes away from Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake. From Toronto or Buffalo, follow the QEW, exit at Glendale Avenue and follow the signs. Plan your next visit to the St. Catharines Museum at the Welland Canals Centre, Lock 3.
Welland Canal Map - Locks Points of Interest
1. Lock 1- St. Catharines
On Canal Road north of Lakeshore Road.
2. Lock 2- St. Catharines
Farther south on Canal Road north of Carlton Street.
3. Lock 3 Complex-St.Catharines
On Government Road north of Glendale Ave., overlooking the canal. The centre features an observation platform(wheelchair accessible), full service restaurant and the St.Catharines Museum. Open all year. Ships transit the canal from March to December. A quality souvenir store, food concession, patio area and information are all on site.
Lock 4, 5 and 6- The Twinned Flight Locks 4,5 and 6- Thorold
On Canal Road south of Glendale Avenue. These locks allow simultaneous locking of ships in both directions.
7. Lock 7- Thorold
The last lift over the Niagara Escarpment.
8. Lock 8 and the Fountainview Park-Port Colborne
An observation stand allows spectators an excellent view of one of the world's longest locks. A "lighthouse" tourist information centre adjoins the park.
A. Thorold Tunnel
It was the first tunnel built under the Welland Canal.
B. Townline Tunnel- South Welland
Opened in 1973, it permits three forms of traffic(car, train and ship) to flow smoothly, without interruption.
C. Welland Recreational Waterway
The former canal route is now used for water skiing, boating, jet-skiing and other leisure activities.
D. Main Street Tunnel-Welland
Opened in 1972, as part of the Welland relocation project.
E. By-Pass Canal
An 8.3 mile(13.4 km) channel built to relocate the Welland Canal 1.5 miles(2.4 km) east of Welland's city core, at a cost of $188.3 million.
Merrit Island -Welland
This recreation area features picnic facilities, hiking and biking.
This segmented hiking trail follows portions of past and present canal routes. Trail maps available.
For more information please call:
Lock 3 Viewing Complex and Museum:
Toll Free: 1-800-305-5134.