Port Dalhousie Walking Tour

Duration: 60 minutes Difficulty: Easy.

We've designed a tour that highlights remnants of the First, Second and Third Welland Canals you can see in Port Dalhousie. The route of the First Welland canal can be difficult to follow, so we'll identify what's there before moving on to the Second and Third canals. Click on the map or scroll down for a picture and description of each item you want to take a look at.

1. Port Dalhousie Jailhouse: The parking lot identified on the map is a good place to park and to start exploring. If you go to the southwest corner of the parking lot you'll find the Port Dalhousie Jailhouse. Built in 1845 the jail had room for two prisoners and is one of Canada's smallest jails. The jail was built on the bank of the First Welland Canal and was primarily used as a holding cell for sailors or workers on the canal who became rowdy after visiting one of the local drinking establishments. The jail was designated a historical landmark by the city in 1979. (Photo: Welland Canal Advocate)

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2. Route of the First Welland Canal: If you head into Lakeside park you should notice a bluff at the southwest edge of the park. The hill is significant because the First Welland Canal traveled along the bottom of the hill to Lake Ontario. If you follow this route to Lake Ontario you will eventually cross a walking path leading to stairs that go up the hill. This is the approximate location of Lock 1 of the First Welland Canal. The lock was dug up in 2008 by local archaeologist Jon Jouppien to confirm its location which they found a few feet below the surface. The lock is was buried again to help preserve the lock. (Photo: Welland Canal Advocate)

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3. Submerged Pier: The First Welland Canal continued northwest with a short pier made of wood beams and stone continuing into the water. The pier provided an open channel into Lake Ontario but the direction turned out to be a problem. Ships leaving the canal were often met by the prevailing northeast wind and got trapped in the canal. Today it looks like the piers are gone, but they still exist underwater several meters from shore. Look closely and you can still see the piers in the aerial photo taken of the area.

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4. Second and Third Welland Canal Pier: The pier located at the far north end of Lakeside Park is the pier used by the Second and later Third Welland Canals. The pier is popular with locals and at over 500 meters extends a considerable distance into Lake Ontario.

Returning from the pier keep on the east side of the parking lot. The pathway follows the route of the Second Welland Canal and will eventually got you to lock One of the Second Welland Canal.

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5. Canal Front: If you look across the road from the Second Welland Canal, you'll see a long line of buildings and businesses. The buildings are in a perfect line and continue for the next 150 meters because they were built along the banks of the Second Welland Canal, catering to the needs of people employed by the canal. You can often see the buildings in older photos of the Welland Canal in Port Dalhousie. Today these businesses mostly cater to local tourism in Port Dalhousie.

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6. Lock 1 - Second Canal: Continuing on a little further should bring you to Lock One of the Second Welland Canal. The lock has been turned into a small terraced park that you can actually walk into. A historical plaque stands at the southeast corner.

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7. Second Canal Plaque: The plaque by lock one of the Second Welland Canal is well written and full of information. Make sure to take a moment and read it.

Once you're done, head east toward the lower harbor. You'll need to go around the new building (either side) to get the waterfront trail along the harbor. If you follow this path south it will take you to a large pedestrian bridge and several additional landmarks. If you can't find the trail or bridge you can walk up the road to landmarks 9 to 13.

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8. Lincoln Fabrics: Located in the middle of the Inner and Lower Harbors is the Lincoln Fabrics building. The factory was originally built as the Maple Leaf Rubber company in 1900 and has been in continual use for over 100 years.

Its a good reminder of the numerous factories that used the canal for either transportation or water power.

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9. Third Welland Canal Weir: Nestled in between Lincoln Fabrics and the Waterfront trail is a small man-made waterfall. The water is going through the original weir that allowed excess water to bypass Lock One of the Third Welland Canal. Today it's still being used allowing excess water to move from the Inner Harbor to the Lower Harbor in Port Dalhousie.

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10. Lock One - Third Welland Canal: Continuing on the trail will bring you to another lock, this time from the Third Welland Canal. The lock is huge and filled with water on the north end. In the picture you may notice that one of the original lock gates is still in place on the lock wall.

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11. The Door: One remarkable thing about the locks in Port Dalhousie are the small artifacts that have survived. There are several of them but this lock gate seems the most remarkable. This picture is from 2003 and the gate had just been sitting there unused for 70 years.

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12. Plaque #2: Another plaque stands beside Lock One of the Third Welland Canal. This one is a more brief and talks about the Third Welland canal's remnants nearby.

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13. Lock Tender's Shanty: A small white hut sits just off of Lakeport Rd. beside Lock 1 of the Third Welland Canal. The hut was once used to collect customs and other payment from ships passing through the canal. The hut is currently the only one of its kind still standing.

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14. Tow Path: Cross Lakeport Rd. into Rennie Park and continue walking south. This land area was created using dirt dredged from the nearby rowing course and will allow you to walk a significant distance into the inner harbour.

On the east side of the park you should see a string of small man-made islands in the water that form a line across the pond. The islands are what's left of the original towpath that horses used when they towed ships through the Third Welland Canal.

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15. Lock 2 - Third Canal: If you continue south to the far end of Rennie Park you'll be able to see another lock from the Third Welland Canal on the southeastern shore of the inner harbour.

The lock is actually Lock 2 of the Third Welland Canal. It was here that ships traveling the Third Welland Canal left Port Dalhousie and headed inland across the north end of St. Catharines. The city has recently built a footbridge you can use to go see the lock if you are interested.

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16. Muir Brothers: Heading back toward Port Dalhousie you'll come across a building at the north west corner of Rennie Park called "Dalhousie House" The building was once the main office for the Muir Brothers. A large carved stone out front tells the history of the company. For almost 100 years the company built ships here for use on the Great Lakes and the Welland Canal. It might be difficult to imagine that Rennie park was once a large industrial site used for shipbuilding, but like the rest of Port Dalhousie a lot has change over the last 100 years.

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