Safe Passage: Aids to Navigation on the St. Lawrence
Steamer "Lakeside" leaving Port Dalhousie, ON, about 1904-1910
Anonyme - Anonymous
1904-1910, 20th century
Coloured ink on paper mounted on card - Offset
7 x 13 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Cityscape (3948) , harbour (624) , Print (10661)
Keys to History
Inland Navigation in Canada in the 19th Century
The Golden Age of Shipping
The 19th century witnessed major changes in the Canadian navigation system, in particular, along the Laurentian shipping route. Some historians even call the period "the golden age of shipping." From the early years of wooden rafts and single-sailed Durham boats navigating the shoals and rapids of Canada's rivers, the century saw the arrival, in its waning years, of the era of steamboats. These modern ships, including the famous canallers, travelled the inland waterways transporting people and goods until the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959.
Here we see two lighthouses. Pairs of lighthouses were often placed at the entrance to harbours and canals, the smaller one first, the larger one behind it. Approaching ships would align the two lights thereby setting a line to sail by.
Port Dalhousie is located at the north end of the Welland Canal, on the southwestern shore of Lake Ontario. The Welland Canal connects Lakes Ontario and Erie, providing ships a means to bypass Niagara Falls.
Port Dalhousie was the northern terminus of the Welland Canal from 1829 to 1932, when Port Weller took over that role. The lighthouses date from 1852 (the rear alignment beacon) and 1879 (the front alignment beacon). The rear beacon was rebuilt two times: in 1893, after a fire gutted the original structure, and in 1898, after a second blaze.
The lighthouses guide ships entering Lake Ontario and heading toward Port Dalhousie, on their way to the Welland Canal. To check their approach, the pilots had to make sure that the two beacon lights were visually aligned, one over the other.