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Shipping Canal: Welland Canal

Posted in Shipping Canal - 14 Jun 2021, 3:36 PM

The Welland Canal is a waterway creating a link between Port Weller on Lake Ontario and Port Colborne on Lake Erie in Canada. It was designed specifically to cater to the passage of large vessels commercially, supporting the trade and industry in the area surrounding the ports.

Occasionally, it also accommodates pleasure cruise ships in between the schedule of commercial ships. However, visitors who are coming for a cruise ship need to pay attention to the schedule and may face a delay since it would mostly serve the commercial ships first.

The Original Canal Had 40 Locks

The current canal is the fourth canal built in the passage. The first one was constructed in 1829 and had 40 locks. The complex design was made to accommodate the natural land elevation to Lake Erie, which was around 175 feet above sea level. The curves following the landscape around had also made the canal difficult to navigate, especially for large and heavy vessels.

Over the years, the second, third, and lastly, the fourth canal was made deeper, wider, and straighter. With only 8 locks existing, the canal is now 80 feet in width, 858 feet in length, and 26 feet in depth.

Designed Only to Last until 2030

The fourth Welland Canal had just finished construction in 2017. Originally, the design was made only to last until 2030. The fifth canal design was already in the proposal, which was going to bypass all canals to cross the Niagara with only four locks.

Currently, the authority has been doing improvements and regular maintenance to keep up the condition of the canal infrastructure. The maintenance aims to stretch the next replacement of the canal, which means that it may last beyond the year 2030.

Welland Canal Closed Most of the Time of the Year

Located mostly in the northern part of America, the harsh winter can be devastating to ships to navigate through the canal. It usually closes in December and does not open until the start of Spring in March or April. The annual ceremony is held at the opening of the canal before the first vessel of the year operates in the canal. Averagely, the canal caters to around 3,000 vessels carrying more than 40 million tonnages of cargo in varied commodities such as iron ore, grain, stone, coal salt, steel, and stone.

Object of Sabotage

Over the canal’s history, several sabotage attempts were made. The sabotage aimed to blow up part of the canal and create devastating floods through the surrounding area. Two of the attempts were caught in the act, and the flood never happened.

When to Visit Welland Canal?

Visitors who want to come and experience the waterway through the Welland Canal can buy a ticket for $320 for a one-way trip through all the canal’s locks. However, the schedule needs to follow the cargo vessel’s schedule, and visitors who have bought the ticket can wait and get notified for the next schedule around the canal’s opening time between December and March.

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