The Canals

There are four different canals that make up the "Old Welland Canals". Select one below to find out more about it. The rest of this page offers a brief overview and comparison of the canals.

First Welland Canal
Second Welland Canal
Third Welland Canal
Feeder Canal

Canal History:


Welland Canal 1829-1832:

Plans for the First Welland Canal were to follow a channel south from Lake Ontario to the Welland River. Then east to the Niagara River. Then south again to Lake Erie. The canal was built 1825-29.

In 1828 it was realized that a new water source was needed to fill the canal with water. The Feeder Canal was dug to bring water from the Grand River in 1829.

After it was completed in 1929 the canal operated this way until 1832.


Welland Canal 1833-1844:

After 3 years of operation the route along the Welland River was considered too time consuming. A new route was dug that incorporated part of the Feeder Canal and continued south all the way to Lake Erie.

The canal was run this way for 11 years from 1833 to 1844.


Welland Canal 1845-1881:

The Second Welland Canal was designed to follow the route of the First Welland Canal with a few small modifications. Stone was also used instead of wood. The canal was rebuilt 1842-45.

The Feeder Canal was also enlarged during this time to allow ship traffic. In 1851 the feeder canal was also extended to Lake Erie and provided an alternative route for ships.


Welland Canal 1881-1932:

The Third Welland Canal was designed to provide a new and straighter route that would allow bigger ships and shorter transit times. The canal was built 1872-81, while modifications continued until 1887.

The Second Welland Canal remained a distinct canal north of Allanburg and operated until 1915.

The Feeder Canal was no longer the source of water for the canal but handled boat traffic until the 1920's.

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