Seaway Turns 60

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
Seaway Turns 60
Photo credit: Isaac Hunt.

CORNWALL, Ontario – Yesterday, June 26, was the 60th anniversary of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Construction on the Seaway began on Aug. 10, 1954. When it was completed in 1959, the grand opening was attended by Prime Minister John F. Diefenbaker, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II.

The opening of the Seaway and the new power dam was not without its costs though. Nine communities were displaced as 15,400 hectares of land was flooded.

“Whenever I think of the Seaway and the opening of the Moses-Saunders Power Dam, a part of my heart sinks,” said Cornwall’s Little Historian and Seaway News columnist Sara Lauzon. “As incredible and powerful as the Dam is, my mind typically wanders strictly to the nine communities that were flooded permanently as a result of this grand power station. Many families were relocated, homes were burned to the ground and demolished, and although bodies were moved from cemeteries, there are many that were not relocated. So much local history was submerged under the powerful waves of the Moses-Saunders Power Dam, and although this is incredible technology to have so close to home, it can never equally replace what was lost to have it here.”

Lauzon explained however that the construction of the Seaway, and the first Seaway International Bridge also worked to bring people together.

“On a personal level, the previous Seaway International Bridge holds a special place in my heart. My Grandfather, Archille Latour, a Mattawa native, traveled from his small town near North Bay to work on constructing the bridge,” she said. “He stayed at a boarding house on Sydney Street, which was owned and operated by my Grandmother, Rolande Séguin. It was our former bridge that brought my Grandfather to Cornwall, where he would marry my Grandmother, raise a family, and assist Mrs. Latour in operating convenience stores in the East end of Cornwall. (You might remember the most popular one at the corner of Alice and First Streets. She even had pinball machines!)”

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