Culture and history

Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site

The Sault Ste. Marie Canal was constructed between 1889 and 1895 to bypass the turbulent rapids of the St. Marys River and to provide the last link in Canada's Great Lakes St. Lawrence shipping route.

Indigenous culture

For more than 2000 years, Indigenous peoples settled on the shore at Baawaating meaning, "the place of the rapids".


When the Sault Ste. Marie Canal was completed in 1895, it was the longest lock in the world and the first to operate using hydroelectricity produced on-site. In 1979, the canal was transferred to Parks Canada and now operates as a recreational lock.



The heritage buildings on North St. Mary's Island are an important aspect of the canal's distinct character and history. The Administration Building, Superintendent's Residence, Canalmen's Shelter, Powerhouse, and Stores/Blacksmith Shop were constructed of red sandstone and trimmed with limestone.


Venture back a century or more and explore the historic Powerhouse building with its original 19th century machinery and discover the world’s only remaining emergency swing dam, used in the accident of 1909.

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