1959 St Lawrence Seaway Opened

Going through the locks

After a century of efforts the St Lawrence Seaway was opened in 1959 by President Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth.

As early as the 1890’s proposals were made to create a waterway along St Lawrence to provide access to the Great Lakes from the Atlantic Ocean. In the 1920s two reports were submitted to the US and Canadian governments, both recommending the building of a canal. The concept was to combine the ability to generate power from the water and providing deep water passage. A treaty was signed in 1932 to build the canal, but it could not achieve the 2/3 votes required to be ratified by the US Senate.

After World War II the Canadians who needed the potential power the project could generate threatened to build the canal alone. This spurred the US Congress to agree to build the canal jointly. On May 13, 1954, President Eisenhower passed Wiley- Dondero Seaway Act, which established the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held in Massena, New York on August 10, 1954. The US Coast Guard Cutter Maple was the first ship to make the passage in early 1959. The project cost $470 million with the bulk being paid for by the Canadian government.