Welland Feeder Canal Junction Lock
Address: located between Prince Charles Drive South/ Regional Road 58 and the Welland Recreational Waterway (old Welland Canal)
at Broadway in Welland Ontario municipally known as 2 Ontario Road.
By-law Number: 2021-57
Description of Property
- Welland Feeder Canal Junction Lock, Welland, ON
The Feeder Canal Junction Lock is located between Prince Charles Drive South/ Regional Road 58 and the Welland Recreational Waterway (old Welland Canal) at Broadway in Welland Ontario municipally known as 2 Ontario Road. It is a cut stone lock, the majority of which is buried, but with a portion still open and filled with water. The City has erected historic information plaques surrounding the exposed portion of the lock.
Statement of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest
The Feeder Canal Junction Lock at Welland is an early part of the Welland Canal system which since the 1820’s has shaped both the geography and history of the eastern half of the Niagara Peninsula and of Welland.
The Feeder Canal was created during the construction of the first Welland Canal that extended only as far south as Port Robinson, but after completion of the Second Welland Canal in the 1840’s the Feeder Canal emptied into the Welland Canal at a location known as “The Junction” or “Junction Village”; an area later known as “Helmsport” (present day Broadway Avenue and Ontario Road).
The Junction Lock was completed in 1845 during the construction of the Second Welland Canal at “The Junction” where the Feeder Canal emptied into the Second Welland Canal and was used as part of both the Second and Third Welland canals. It allowed boats to lock from the Feeder Canal directly into the Welland Canal (now the Recreational Waterway).
The construction supervisor for the lock was civil and consulting engineer Walter H. Shanly (born Ireland 1817, died Montréal 1899) who along with his brother Francis were among the first engineers to be trained in Canada. Walter Shanly was in charge of work on the Second Canal from Thorold to the Junction and on to Port Colborne. The Shanlys’ work on the Second Welland Canal did much to set professional standards for Canadian engineering. They also built many of the early railways and bridges in Canada. Walter was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada and after Confederation to the House of Commons where he served until 1891.
Contractors for the Junction Lock were E.W. Thompson and Company and Wm. Buell Jr. Edward William Thompson (Thomson) was born at Kingston, Upper Canada in 1794. A decorated War of 1812 veteran, he worked constructing the locks on the St. Lawrence and Rideau Canals before being contracted to work on the Welland Canal in the 1830’s. Thomson was elected to the Legislature in 1836, defeating William Lyon Mackenzie, and was first president of the Provincial Agricultural Association.
Starting in 1828, “clearances” and crop failures culminating in the great potato famine of 1845 brought large numbers of Irish immigrants to Canada. The manual labour building the Junction Lock, as for all of the First and Second Canals, would have been done by Irish labourers known as “canallers”.
The stone Junction Lock and the stone Aqueduct on East Main Street are the only remnants left in Welland of the Feeder Canal and the Second Welland canal. These structures are important because the creation of the Feeder Canal and the Aqueduct over the Welland Canal led directly to settlement in this location and ultimately to the creation of the community that is now the City of Welland.
Description of Heritage Attributes
Key attributes of this structure that reflects its value as one of the earliest surviving structures in the City of Welland and one that was central to the establishment of the community:
- Lock dimensions are 150 feet by 26.5 feet and 9 feet deep
- Lock walls are constructed of dressed cut Queenston limestone (dolomitic limestone) running the length of the lock backed by rubble fill
- Number of the lock is carved into a stone near the top layer of masonry at its entrance
- A portion of the lock approximately 45 feet long remains unburied and is filled with water. Curved iron fittings are visible on the top of the lock walls across from each other on either side of the lock in this area.
- The remainder of the lock is buried with only the tops of the stone walls visible in some areas in the grass
- The stone lock “fenders” are exposed and visible on the banks of the old Welland Canal (Recreational Waterway)