1850 Sault Ste. Marie Canal

We find the following notice of the importance of this work in the British Colonist, of the 13th inst. The great advantage of this canal to the interests of the country building it is fully appreciated by our neighbors of Canada, and we are glad to see the press advocating the immediate construction of the work, and if the Bill that has passed the Senate of the United States and that is now before the House does not become a law the present session of Congress, we shall expect to see the important work strongly advocated by all parties in Canada.

As the Canadian side possessing "superior advantages and greater facilities for such an undertaking," the Colonist has been vert incorrectly informed. It is in fact the reverse, the portage on either side being about the same length, less than three fourths of a mile; but both above and below the portage on the Canadian side, the water is shallow for a quarter of a mile, while on this side below the portage, the largest class vessels can come within ten feet of the shore, and at the head of the portage within two hundred feet of the shore.

There would not be half the wharfing or piering out on this side as on the other, and every one can judge of the danger from the current when it known that the present docks, though slightly built, have never been in any danger of being removed from this cause. Nothing can be finer than the harbor, both above and below the rapids on the American side, and the greatest of the "many serious obstacles" is simply the want of correct knowledge of the importance of the work by our government.

Both sides possess great facilities for building their work, and it is truly astonishing that it has not been done before this late day by one or the other of the governments:

"The bill granting land to the State of Michigan to aid in the construction of a ship canal around the falls at Saut Ste. Marie, passed the Senate on the 2nd inst.

This is an important measure, and we trust that the bill will be reached in the House, where we doubt not favorable action will be had upon it. The connecting of Lake Superior with the lower lakes, by a canal adequate for ship navigation, would open an extensive region, abounding in mineral wealth, and capable of sustaining a large population, to the commerce of the country. The distance to be overcome is but short and several vessels, including a steamboat — Julia Palmer — and two propellers — have been taken across the Portage, by land, for service upon Lake Superior.

The representatives of this State, and the whole Lake region, would consult the interests of their constituents by favoring and urging the passage of this bill. And if the slavery question can be disposed of in season, we hope it may be passed at this session, but of this the prospect is not at present very flattering.

We cut the above important paragraph from the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser,of the 9th inst. Our ever active and enterprising American neighbors are determined to "take time by the fore-lock" in this instance and endeavor to secure to themselves, at least one link in the chain of water communication which separates their territory from ours. The country on both sides, along the shore of Lake Superior and around the neighborhood of Saut Ste. Marie abounds in great mineral wealth, the increase of population, which has rapidly taken place within the last two or three years in consequence has greatly increased its importance — a wide field is now opening up for great commercial intercourse. The number of persons traveling, and the present traffic between these regions and the different mercantile cities of the United States and Canada during the year form no inconsiderable item to the general tarde of each country. The only thing wanting, therefore, in order to develop more fully, the resources of this new and important country, is the construction of a ship canal to unite the waters of Huron and Superior. From all the information we can get in reference to the locality about Saut Ste. Marie, the Canadian side offers superior advantages and possesses greater facilities than the American for such an undertaking.

On the Canadian side of the Saut, half a mile of canal is all that is required — the portage is good, with safe and convenient harbors at each end, while on the American side the water is more shallow, and the current more rapid. The Americans, therefore, in constructing a canal on their own territory, will have many serious obstacles to encounter. They will be under the necessity of extending wharves to a considerable distance into the lake, before they can get sufficient depth of water to enable large vessels to load and discharge their cargoes. On the breaking up of ice in the spring there is also every probability that such wharves would be swept away by the rapidity of the current. Taking all these circumstances into consideration, therefore, there cane be no question that the Canadian side is possessed of greater accommodations then the American, and a canal so cut would commend the whole traffic from Lake Superior.

Lord Elgin is now on a tour round the great Canadian Lakes — and we understand it is His Excellency's intention to visit the great mining locality, to which we have been alluding. Should he, therefore, on his return, set the Executive in motion, so that this work may be commenced at an early date, he may yet redeem his name among those whom he had styled the "foes to the liberties of their country." We would also call the attention of the Chief Commissioner of Public Works to this important matter. The deep interest he has always felt, and the active part he took in the construction of the Welland Canal leads us to hope that something will be done and

If it were done, then 'twere well

It were done quickly.

A Ship Canal, uniting Lakes Superior and Huron on Canadian territory, gives us then a line of uninterrupted inland water communication far exceeding anything which the model Republic can boast of, and not to be equalled by any in the world."

Source: Lake Superior Journal September 25, 1850.;


The little sloop Argyl, of the Canadian side, that has been running on Lake Superior for several years was run down the Ste. Marie falls on the 19th. It was a pretty spectacle, and, for those on board rare sport, but short, it running the whole distance of the Rapids proper in three minutes.

Source: Lake Superior Journal September 25, 1850.