Canals again?? Oh, yeah!

Trip Start Jul 13, 2013
Trip End Aug 12, 2013

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Welland Canal Centre

Flag of United States  , Michigan
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This morning we left camp at 9:10 heading to the Welland Canal…I DID mention the John likes canals A LOT didn't I?? We would have been out of camp sooner, but we had some delightful camping neighbors next to us who are from Newfoundland and we were having such a good time visiting with them we just didn’t worry about it.

As it wasn’t far at all to the canal, we arrived there at 9:30. We actually drove UNDER the Canal on our way to see it, which was kind of weird. Part of the Canal is located in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, as is the Welland Canals Centre which had several exhibits about the history of that area including the War of 1812. The Canadian take on this war is somewhat different from America’s. The history is given there from four different perspectives which we thought was interesting.

Harriet Tubman of Underground Railroad fame lived in St. Catherine’s. According to a brochure, the railroad was neither a railroad nor underground. It was a network of people who hid and guided freedom seeker as they followed the North Star to Canada…to freedom. She helped thousands of slaves escape to Canada before the Civil War and never lost a "passenger’. The symbol of her endeavor was the North Star. There was a logo that escaping slaves could see and know that where they were safe. Her expertise was such that the Union Army later used her to reconnoiter. She became a master of disguise.

According to the brochure in regard to the Welland Canal: The St. Lawrence River and the five Great Lakes together constitute the greatest inland waterway in the world. From the Atlantic Ocean it extends 2,300 miles into the very heart of North America, forming a vital commercial shipping route. The only problem: a major obstacle called Niagara Falls prevents ships from sailing between Lakes Erie and Ontario! The solution: the Welland Canal, bypassing the Falls and lifting vessels over the Niagara Escarpment. The present canal is the fourth one and it was completed in 1932. The total length of the canal system is 26.8 miles and the average transit time is 8 to 12 hours. Most locks are 859 feet long and 80 feet wide. Ships up to a maximum of 740 feet long and 78 feet wide can now transit the Welland Canal. The cost for commercial vehicles to pass through the locks is from $19,000 to $38,000. The actual raising or lowering takes 10 to 12 minutes. It takes 21 million gallons of water to fill a lock. No pumps of any kind are used to fill or empty the locks. All the water filling and emptying is done by gravity-flow from Lake Erie north to Lake Ontario. The canal is operated 24 hours per day, 7 days a week from late March to Christmas week. By then the ice is often fairly thick, and sometimes the last ship through has to be escorted by tugs. From January to March, the Canal may be drained anywhere for repairs or reconstruction.

The total lift of the whole Welland Canal is 326 feet. Just three of the locks lift ships more than approximately the height of Niagara Falls in a stair step design. We were very lucky because just as we got to the lock at the Welland Centre, an enormous freighter was locking through. It was amazing to see how quickly the water filled the lock and equally quickly drained it to let the ship out the other side. There was barely a foot of extra space between the ship and the canal wall. Amazing!

From the Canal, we drove along the shore of Lake Ontario for several miles. We saw many vineyards and some also saw HUGE greenhouses which do hydroponics growing of plants and vegetables. I had forgotten to mention that there was one of these very large greenhouses set up next to the campground we were in two nights ago.

Along the way we stopped to get a chocolate chip frappe (I did mention that I am officially addicted??) but they don’t have those in this part of Canada apparently so we got a Vanilla Chai one. It was OK, but not Chocolate Chip! Also, in honor of Betty C we went into Tim Horton’s and were forced to get a couple of pastries. Good grief! Betty is SO right. I suspect we would be better off never having darkened the door!

While at this stop we also purchased gasoline. It was going for $1.30/liter. John figures it totals out to about $4.94/gallon. Thirteen percent of the price is sales tax which we don’t have in the States, so the price of the gasoline is about $4.25 to $4.20/gallon plus tax. He says if you think of it that way, it maybe doesn’t sound so bad??

The economy in Canada looks to be doing quite well. The towns look prosperous and we didn’t see very many shuttered store fronts. The road we were on, QEW was in wonderful condition. The farms that we passed today appeared to be very well maintained and we sensed a general air of things being OK when we talked to Canadians.

We drove around the end of Lake Ontario on the way to London, Ontario. The topography got hillier at that point as it is part of the Niagara escarpment. Later on, the landscape opened up into lovely farming country. The fields were gorgeous to see—Don L, we thought of you and know you would have loved it! You wouldn’t have had to push your cows out of the trailer here like you said you would in New Mexico! We also saw a large field of sunflowers—beautiful!

Later on we pulled into a Wendy’s for a quick snack lunch and then made a run for the border. We had mostly cloudy skies and the temperature was 75 degrees. Around 3:00 we had a short rain shower. The horizons became broader and the farms we saw were larger than earlier in the day.

We crossed the International Border at Port Huron at 4:05…and turned the mobile phone back on at 4:06!). Our crossing point is called the Blue Water Bridge and the views from it were breathtaking. Lake Huron was on our right and the channel leading to Lake Erie was on our left. The water was a gorgeous shade of blue and the town of Port Huron, Michigan (from the bridge) was a lovely area. Many huge trees, and since the weather had cleared up by that point in time, the view was quite nice.

We actually made it through customs at 4:25 which wasn’t too bad at all. We had heard that if we crossed at Detroit it could have taken up to two hours.

Our home for tonight is Emmett KOA in Emmett, MI. It is a very nice mom and pop KOA. They gave us one of their best sites—level, good electric, paved patio, good wifi (I hope) and we are settled for the night. Also, since we can hear a train in the near distance, it must be officially a campground.

We drove 218 miles today.
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Joe & Doris on

As you are heading south, and go through the Cincinnati area you may want to visit the Creation Museum. I think you will find it very interesting. We are enjoying your adventures.

dwlp.travelkids on

Hey you two...thanks for the input. It is so good to hear from you. As of now we don't plan to come back through Cincinnati since we went up that way when we left. John studies maps every evening, so goodness knows what direction we will finally head when this particular adventure ends! Miss you.

D. Crip on

You are bringing back very old memories, I spent an entire summer when I was 9 years old there on the Canadian side at Port Huron, in a little cabin on a rocky beach. I have never been back to that area and I am quite sure it is different now. We were taught by the locals to peel the bark off of the many white birch trees and use it as paper to write on like the people native to that area did.

dwlp.travelkids on

What a small world. We just met a little family that are camping here and they are fro Sarnia which is the town across the bridge on the Canadian side. Glad we could bring back some good memories. It really looked like a very nice place.

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