Transcript: Welland Canal | Mar 15, 1988

(music plays)

A black and white clip shows a waterfall and a river.

The Narrator says SINCE THE TIME WHEN ONLY
NATIVE PEOPLES TRAVELLED THE
WATERWAYS OF THIS CONTINENT,
THE NIAGARA FALLS AND THE
TURBULENT NIAGARA RIVER, WITH
ITS NARROW GORGE, HAVE BEEN
A FORMIDABLE BARRIER
TO EASY MOVEMENT OF
SUPPLIES AND PEOPLE.
TO OVERCOME THE DROP IN LAND
HEIGHT OF MORE THAN 300 FEET
BETWEEN LAKE ERIE AND LAKE
ONTARIO, A SERIES OF CANALS
AND LOCKS HAS BEEN BUILT.

(music plays)

Black and white clips show truck in a muddy road, and people working.

The Narrator continues EVEN SO, TIGHT FITS IN THE
CROWDED WATERWAY AT THE TURN
OF THE CENTURY, DUE TO A
STEADY INCREASE IN THE SIZE
OF LAKE FREIGHTERS AND
OCEAN-GOING VESSELS,
QUICKLY LED TO THE NEED
FOR YET ANOTHER CANAL.
THE BASIS FOR TODAY'S
MAJOR WATERWAY.

A black and white clip shows a map of the canal and the river.

The Narrator says THE FIRST WELLAND CANAL
WAS COMPLETED IN 1833
AND HAD 40 LOCKS.
THESE WERE SUPERCEDED
AT VARIOUS TIMES IN THE
19th CENTURY BY
ENLARGEMENTS IN THE CHANNEL
AND A REDUCTION IN
THE NUMBER OF LOCKS.
THE ROUTE FOR THE PRESENT
CANAL BECAME VIRTUALLY A
STRAIGHT LINE, 26 MILES
LONG BETWEEN THE TWO LAKES.

(music plays)

Black and white clips show the building site of the channel, and people working.

The Narrator says CONSTRUCTION BEGAN AT THE LAKE
ONTARIO ENTRANCE TO THE CANAL
IN 1913.
AS THE OLD WINDING ROUTE WAS
BEING STRAIGHTENED, DIGGING OF
THE NEW CHANNEL OFTEN TOOK
PLACE WITHIN SIGHT OF THE OLD.
IN ORDER TO ENSURE THE MINIMUM
DISTURBANCE TO EXISTING
FACILITIES, SUCH AS THE MAIN
CN ROUTE WHICH CROSSED
THE SITE, CAREFUL PLANNING
AND TIMING OF THE OPERATION
HAD TO TAKE PLACE.
THIS NEW ROUTE WAS TO HAVE
ONLY SEVEN LOCKS PLUS THE
SHALLOW CONTROL LOCK TO
RAISE AND LOWER THE VESSELS
BETWEEN THE LAKES.
WITH GREATER DROPS NECESSARY,
THE HUGE LOCK GATES WERE
PLANNED TO BE 82 FEET
HIGH AND 5 FEET THICK.
THE WALLS OF THE LOCKS WERE
BUILT 46 FEET WIDE AT THE
FOUNDATIONS AND 16
FEET THICK AT THE TOP.
WITHIN THEM WERE THE MASSIVE
WATER SIPHON CULVERTS
THAT ALLOWED THE MOVEMENT
OF WATER FROM ONE SIDE
OF THE GATES TO THE OTHER.
BEFORE BEGINNING THE PROJECT,
IT WAS ESTIMATED THAT OVER
3 MILLION CUBIC YARDS OF
CONCRETE WOULD BE NEEDED
ALONG WITH 23 MILLION POUNDS
OF REINFORCING STEEL.
WHEN THIS FILM FOOTAGE
WAS SHOT IN THE 1920s,
THE CANAL WAS HAILED AS ONE
OF THE ENGINEERING MARVELS
OF THE WORLD.

(music plays)

A black and white clip shows cars in a road by the river.

The Narrator says AS CONSTRUCTION PROCEEDED,
THE RE-ROUTING OF VEHICULAR
TRAFFIC IN THE AREA OF
THOROLD, BECAME A NIGHTMARISH
SERIES OF TRAFFIC DIVERSIONS
THREADING THEIR WAY BETWEEN
THE OLD, NEW AND
PRESENT CANALS.

(music plays)

Black and white clips show an excavator digging and a cargo train dragging dirt filled wagons.

The Narrator continues FOR THE NEW CANAL, HUGE
AMOUNTS OF EARTH AND
FILL HAD TO BE MOVED.
AND IN ORDER TO KEEP TRAFFIC
MOVING FREELY FOR MANY YEARS,
THE NEW WATERWAY WAS DUG 200
FEET WIDE AT THE BOTTOM,
SPREADING TO 300 FEET
AT THE WATERLINE.
TO HELP WITH THE CONSTRUCTION,
A SPECIAL RAILWAY SYSTEM HAD
TO BE BUILT THAT WAS MOVEABLE
AS THE WORK PROGRESSED.
THESE TOUGH LITTLE 40-TON
LOCOMOTIVES WERE PUT TO WORK
HELPING TO CUT AND
LEVEL THE NEW LANDSCAPE.
EQUIPPED WITH LARGE BLADES
ATTACHED TO THE FRONT OF THE
ENGINE, THEY EXCAVATED 53
MILLION CUBIC YARDS OF EARTH
AND MOVED OVER 9 MILLION
CUBIC YARDS OF ROCK.

(music plays)

A black and white clip shows a truck dropping large amounts of rocks into a rock crusher.

The Narrator continues SOME OF THIS WAS CRUSHED
ON THE SITE IN A HUGE ROCK
CRUSHER WHICH COULD DEAL
WITH 2000 TONS A DAY.

Black and white clips show large ships sailing in the canal.

The Narrator continues BY THE MIDDLE OF THE 1920s,
PARTS OF THE NEW CANAL CAME
INTO USE, ONCE AGAIN,
OVERCOMING THE PREVIOUSLY
CROWDED CONDITIONS AND THE
BARRIER OF THE NIAGARA FALLS.

(music plays)

A black slate appears with a caption that reads “Ontario Retrospect: Welland Canal. Material courtesy of National Film Archives, Ottawa.”

A Production of TVOntario
The Ontario Educational Communications Authority MCMLXXIX

Watch: Welland Canal