The Sault Ste. Marie Canal was constructed between 1889 and 1895 to bypass the turbulent rapids of the St. Marys River and to provide the last link in Canada's Great Lakes St. Lawrence shipping route.

Indigenous culture

For more than 2000 years, Indigenous peoples settled on the shore at Bawating meaning, "the place of the rapids".


From the 1890s to the 1980s, the Sault Ste. Marie Canal locked through the old and the new: tired old schooners with leaky bottoms and worn riggings, gleaming new steam-driven passenger ships, coal-blackened freighters (dubbed Upper Lakers) and private yachts with spit-polished brass.


The heritage buildings on North St. Marys Island are an important aspect of the canal's distinct character and history. The Administration Building, Superintendent's Residence, Canalmen's Shelter, Powerhouse, and Stores/Blacksmith Shop were constructed of red sandstone and trimmed with limestone.


Venture back a century or more and explore the historic Powerhouse building with its original 19th century machinery and discover the world’s only remaining emergency swing dam, used in the accident of 1909.