137 Die

137 people die building Welland Canal


ship on shimmering water

The Federal Biscay approaches lock 3 on historic Welland Canal


When we say Niagara you say Falls.

But if you’re a local then you answer Welland Canal.

 The Welland Canal is a huge part of life here in the Niagara Peninsula. There has to be close to a dozen bridges  across and a tunnel or two going under the waterway in the 43 kilometers  between Port Colborne on the shores of Lake Erie on the  south and St Catharines and Lake Ontario in the north. Except for 1 of the bridges, they all open to allow the Lakers safe passage through the waterway. And when the bridges open, thousands of people in their cars and trucks stop. And we wait, and wait.

It’s also a huge part of recreation here in Niagara. We walk along the canal. We ride our bikes,we rollerblade and skateboard on paved trails from stretching from  lakes Ontario to Erie.

When we have out-of-town visitors we take always them to the canal and  show them “where the ships climb the mountain”, a series of 4 giant locks where the lakers either climb the mountain or make their way down.


Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial. St Catharines, Ontario


I’m telling you all this because they recently opened the Fallen Workers Memorial. We walked that area again the other day, this time I got an image that works, and I got to thinking about  the people who lost their lives and the importance of the canal.  I guess that’s what  memorials are supposed to do.

A couple  of my thoughts are:

  • If 137 men died, how many thousands were injured?
  • On August 1, 1928, 9 men died.
  • Some time later a 48 year old father and his twenty year old son both died on the same day. Imagine being part of that family.

There are a lot of stories around that waterway. Hopefully, most of them happy ones.

The morning sun catches a ship slipping out of lock 1


For us though, the canal is generally all about fun and recreation. We check the registry on the ships as they slip past us,  to find they come from all around the world with products we import or export. We walk the canal, we bike the canal, we’ve found pubs just off the canal and back in our days of riding a tandem bike we rode the canal end to end to end one day.

One day, while out riding with Gord and Laurie, we came upon bridge 12.  Bridge 12 took you to Port Robinson. These days, it’s not a bridge, it’s just a place. The bridge left years ago. It seems it accidentally  stepped out in front of a large ship and was damaged beyond repair, so now there is a small passenger ferry that takes you on a 2 minute trip across the water. There’s not much on the other side, but there is a pub and they serve decent food. It’s the perfect spot for a bite and a beer during a leisurely bike ride.

We need some volunteers; the pub’s patio wasn’t licensed when we were there. They told us it was a couple of weeks away. We never made it back. We need a few recreational bike riders to join us on a sunny day to sip a cold one at that pub in Port Robinson. Interested?

Isn’t it comforting to know that my twisted mind can take a story of death can turn into a warm day and a cold beer!

2 bridges over welland canal

Garden city Skyway above, lift bridge below


Where there’s a pub, there’s a way” Larry Vanstone

Thanks. I just love it when you read me,

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