Alfred Heim
Published On: Wed, Jun 4th, 2014

A PAGE OUT OF HISTORY – Canals and Steam Ships Improve Travel in the Eastern District by Kathy Coffey

Rapids 1

Scene from Chisholme, page 220, is llustrating the dangers in negotiating the rapids at Longue Sault.

LONG SAULT Ontario – Travel from Montreal to Toronto takes at most during good travelling conditions 6 hours. Roads are smooth, relatively flat and travel is taken in temperature controlled comfort, although the view is for the most part limited.

According to J. F. Pringle in his book “Lunenburgh, or the Old Eastern District” in the early days of the settlement of the district “the only roads were Indian trails through the woods” so the road between Montreal and Toronto might have looked somewhat like this picture in Frontenac Park.

My beautiful picture

 (Reg Coffey  circa 1986)

The fastest way to travel at this time was on the water and that method was not without difficulty.

This quote is from Chisholm’s panoramic guide from Niagara Falls to Quebec (1868)

“LONG SAUL: This is a continuous rapid of nine miles, divided in the centre by an island. The usual passage for steamers is on the south side. The channel on the north side was formerly considered unsafe and dangerous; but examinations have been made, and it is now descended with safety. The passage in the southern channel is very narrow, and such is the velocity of the current that a raft, it is said, will drift the nine miles in forty minutes. “


“This is a portion of an excellent map of the St. Lawrence River drawn by A.U. Almon, a delineator for the Department of Railways and Canals. Showing here is the eastern Ontario stretch of the river from Brockville to Lake St. Louis at the convergence of the Ottawa River. It shows the location of all the early canals. This map was published in 1907.”  From Doug Grant’s web site “Brockville History Album”


canals-st-lawrence-1909-border resized


For Pictures before and after 1950 when the St Lawrence Seaway project altered the view of the area for ever go to:

We can all thank the hard work and ingenuity of the early inhabitants of Ontario for the relative ease of travel these days. Without all the roads, railways and seaway that were build by our forefathers most of us would probably never have ventured further west than Morrisburg.