Sault Ste. Marie Canal, Sault Ste. Marie

The Sault Ste. Marie Canal is a National Historic Site of Canada in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Until 1987, the canal was part of the shipping route from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Superior. It includes a lock to bypass the rapids on the St. Marys River.The first lock was built in 1798 by the Northwest Trading Company. On July 20, 1814 an American force destroyed the North West Company depot on the north shore of the St. Marys River. Since the Americans were unable to capture Fort Michilimackinac, the British forces retained control of the Sault. The lock was destroyed in 1814 in an attack by U.S. forces during the War of 1812.In 1870, the United States refused the steamer Chicora, carrying Colonel Garnet Wolseley permission to pass through the locks at Sault Ste Marie. The Wolseley Expedition incident led to the construction of a Canadian Sault Ste. Marie Canal, which was completed in 1895.The construction of the canal and lock was completed in 1895. At that time it was the largest lock and first electrically operated lock in the world. The canal is about 1.6km long and originally the lock portion was long and wide.On June 9, 1909 the locks were seriously damaged when the Perry G. Walker, owned by the Gilchrist Transportation Co. of Cleveland, Ohio, crashed into the south main gate, forcing it back and allowing the force of water to push the north main gate over. The rush of water threw the Perry G. Walker back and carried two other ships downstream, one of which struck the south main gate, breaking it diagonally in two. The rush of water through the destroyed locks was stopped by activation of the Emergency Swing Dam, allowing repairs to commence. Amazingly, there was no loss of life or injury associated with this disaster, and repairs required only 12 days, with the bridge reopening on June 21, 1909.
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Sault Ste. Marie Canal Reviews
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  • Great location to walk, go on lock tours, tour our historic preservation of the buildings and the island. Plenty of room for all outdoor activities.  more »
  • Located right downtown Sault St. Marie, the locks connect Lake Superior and Lake Huron. In between is St Mary's river. You can walk over the lock to a couple of walking trails on South St Mary's and W...  more »
  • Even if you've seen the Soo locks on the US side, be sure to check out the Canadian Soo Locks. It's fun and fascinating to watch how the lock system works. You can walk right across the lock when the ...  more »
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  • A beautiful landmark of Sault Ste. Marie and a piece of Canadiana. There is a nice little museum operated by parka Canada. The canal will let you cross over to Whitefish Island which is absolutely beautiful. Bring some bird feed or bread to feed the chickadees. They will eat out of your hand!!!
  • Fantastic canal! It was clean, smelled nice, and was fun to walk around. There's even boats that come up and go through the locks. It's like the Rideau, but way less busy. I recommend going around whitefish island too. Nice nature trails.
  • Very nice and very small just wished the people had enclosed area like the American side. But either way it was nice to see the people waving. :)
  • Pretty simple to find. Very helpful and friendly staff. Engaging Explorer activity book kept the kids active over 2 hours. Lots of history. Currently in the midst of renovations but still oodles of charm.
  • Great place t walk around. Many trails and a lot of history to learn and read about. Historic buildings, gift shop and visitor center with free parking. Fun to watch to watch the vessels go through.

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Where to stay in Sault Ste. Marie

Like most smaller border cities between Canada and the USA, Sault Ste. Marie caters primarily to visitors in transit. The town's accommodations work mostly for one-night stays, with a selection of budget and mid-range motels and motor inns along Queen Street East, just shy of the border. A similar selection of basic accommodations lines Great Northern Road--the main artery out of town to the north--and Trunk Road, which heads northeast.
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3 days in Sault Ste. Marie BY A USER FROM CANADA March, popular PREFERENCES: March ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 4 days in Sault Ste. Marie BY A USER FROM CANADA September, relaxing, popular PREFERENCES: September, relaxing ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Sault Ste. Marie BY A USER FROM CANADA March, popular PREFERENCES: March ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Sault Ste. Marie BY A USER FROM CANADA March, popular PREFERENCES: March ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 40 days in Canada BY A USER FROM CANADA March, culture, outdoors, beaches, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: March, culture, outdoors, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Sault Ste. Marie BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES March, teens, popular PREFERENCES: March, teens ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 29 days in Canada BY A USER FROM CANADA June, culture, romantic, historic sites, slow & easy, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: June, culture, romantic, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Slow & easy 3 days in Sault Ste. Marie BY A USER FROM CANADA February, teens, fast-paced, hidden gems PREFERENCES: February, teens ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Fast-paced 20 days in United States & Canada BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 16 days in United States & Canada BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Sault Ste. Marie & Holland BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 14 days in Canada BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA August, popular PREFERENCES: August ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
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