This scene dates from about 1850, when the Lachine Canal was the first link in a series of canals connecting Montreal and Lake Superior.

Previously, the Lachine Rapids had stopped ships from going further upstream. The canal construction project, which was initiated by the merchants of the city before being taken over by the government, was completed in 1825. Almost 14 km long, the canal was originally designed for small flat-bottomed sailing ships, but many modifications were made in the 19th century in order to accommodate bigger and bigger vessels.

These major construction projects permitted Montreal to supplant the port of Quebec City as the main entry port to the St. Lawrence. The metropolis, which would now accommodate large ocean-going ships, became an essential port of call for inland navigation.
McCord Museum of Canadian History

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