The Seaway

Locks, Canals & Channels

Lock Systems

  • Montreal to Lake Ontario - 2 U.S., 5 Canadian
  • Welland Canal - 8 Canadian

The Seaway Canals

The Seaway system is connected by 5 short canals. They include 15 locks, filled and emptied by gravity.

  • South Shore Canal: (two locks - St. Lambert and Ste. Catherine) 14 nautical miles from the Port of Montreal to Lake St. Louis
  • Beauharnois Canal: (two locks) 11.3 nautical miles; links Lake St. Louis to Lake St. Francis
  • Wiley-Dondero Canal: (two U.S. locks - Snell and Eisenhower) 8 nautical miles; provides access to Lake St. Lawrence
  • Iroquois Canal: (one lock and a water level control facility) 0.3 nautical miles
  • Welland Canal: (eight locks) Of the seven located at north end, three are twinned and contiguous; the eighth, at the south end, is a control lock 23.5 nautical miles; links Lake Ontario to Lake Erie

The Seaway Locks

Together, the locks make up the world's most spectacular lift system. Ships measuring up to 225.5 metres in length (or 740 feet) and 23.8 metres (or 78 feet), in the beam are routinely raised to more than 180 metres above sea level, as high as a 60-story building. The ships are twice as long and half as wide as a football field and carry cargoes the equivalent of 25,000 metric tonnes.

Lock lore:

Each lock is 233.5 metres long (766 feet), 24.4 metres wide (80 feet) and 9.1 metres deep (30 feet) over the sill. A lock fills with approximately 91 million litres of water (24 million gallons) in just 7 to 10 minutes. Getting through a lock takes about 45 minutes.

Illustration (c) 2008 Norm Tufford (Excerpt from Tommy Trent's ABC's of the Seaway)
For a complete copy of Tommy Trent's ABC's of the Seaway, click here