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Introduction & Background

The St. Lawrence River system in conjunction with the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes provides a continuous waterway extending 2,347 miles into the heart of the continent from the Atlantic Ocean. Between Montreal and Lake Ontario, a distance of 183 miles, the St. Lawrence River falls a total of 246 feet.


This section, the St. Lawrence Seaway, is today without doubt the most significant in the whole of the St. Lawrence River.

This site presents here a Pictorial History of the St. Lawrence Seaway, from Montreal to Lake Ontario, from the first efforts to improve river navigation to the present day.

Google Earth Image of Today's Seaway.

The photographs and narrative presented here are provided by Ron Beaupre who now lives on the shores of the Seaway in Mariatown, near Morrisburg. He grew up in the 1950s in Iroquois and this is when he acquired his life-long interest in the Seaway and its boats and history. He became by his own admission a "Boat Nerd". Over the years he has collected a unique library of Seaway related photographs and other documents.


He has generously made some of his favourite photographs and related information available for presentation in this Pictorial History of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Copyright and other attributions are included with each item presented.


Ron Beaupre and the view from his Mariatown home

The Section is divided into three parts - by time frame: (Click on the section you wish to view):

Before the Seaway
(To 1950)

Seaway Construction
(1952 to 1958)

Seaway Now
(After 1958)


Dedication to Ivan S Brookes

Ivan was born in Toronto in 1916 and received his education at schools in the Toronto and Hamilton area. At a very early age Ivan developed a keen interest in all forms of transportation, no doubt in part because the era was one in which modes were changing so rapidly.

By 1930 Ivan was already travelling from Hamilton to Toronto by steamer to visit the port with his camera. He would also board a train in Hamilton, with his bicycle stowed in the baggage car, for a days outing along the Welland Canal.

In 1937 he ventured down Lake Ontario to the Lower St. Lawrence and the Gulf. These trips inspired him to write “The Lower St. Lawrence” which is a masterpiece of marine history for that area.


Ivan also wrote “Hamilton Harbour – The First 75 Years” “Mackay’s Wharf – The Story of a Ship Owning Enterprise in Hamilton” and “Joseph H. Killey – A Nineteenth Century Engineer.” Ivan’s pen & ink sketches illustrated all of his books and are remarkable in their detail, accuracy and craftsmanship.

In 1985 Ivan received the “Great Lakes Historian of the Year” award from the Marine Historical Society of Detroit. Ivan kept meticulous records on ships, shipping companies, ports and canals. This album of images of the old St. Lawrence Canals was prepared by Ivan and passed along to Ron Beaupre. We therefore dedicate this site to the late Ivan S. Brookes, a Marine Historian of the highest order.