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St. Catharines Parks and Recreation sign, Mountain Locks Park

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If there's one site that should be made into a historical park it's Mountain Locks Park in St. Catharines. The city took a step toward this by making it into a park in 1978, but there's still little there to identify the park's historical landmarks. The following guide should correct this and make you an expert on the park.

The park itself is huge, running almost 1 km in length and averaging about 150 meters in width. It's also mysterious; the feel of the park changes along it's length and its filled with channels, berms and stone structures that remain unidentified. The park is an excellent place to hike around and requires about 2 hours to see everything.

Again the park is pretty big and complex compared to most parks in St. Catharines. Just to familiarize yourself with the park, here's a map that reflects the current status of the park and its historical landmarks.

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History

The background to Mountain Locks Park breaks down into 2 periods of development. The building and operation of the First Welland Canal 1825-1845 and that of the Second Welland Canal 1842-1915.

The First Welland Canal: The first canal, not always very straight, is still reflected by the odd shape given to the northern boundary of the park today. Merritt St. which started as a dirt road along the side of the canal is still a good indicator of where the canal once ran. While little remains you can still see the location of lock 24 and the channel of the First Welland Canal between locks 26-28.

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The Second Welland Canal: When the second canal was built in 1842-45, engineers opted for a route about 50 meters to the south of the first. This time they focused on a straight path along the side of the escarpment, a characteristic reflected today by the southern boundary of the park. Bradley street, like Merritt St. got its start as a dirt road along the a canal route.

It was the second canal that left the greatest legacy on the park. Waterways and channels crossed most of the park and even incorporated sections of the first canal. Its the second canal that required the stone structures that are now scattered throughout the park. The canal also led to the building of the two lock tenders houses that still located on Bradley St.

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