Saint Lawrence River

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Coordinates: 49°30′N 64°30′W / 49.500°N 64.500°W / 49.500; -64.500
Saint Lawrence River
Fleuve Saint-Laurent
Saint Lawrence seaway.jpg
St. Lawrence River near Alexandria Bay
Countries Canada, United States
State/Provinces Ontario, Quebec, New York
Source Lake Ontario
 - location Kingston, Ontario / Cape Vincent, New York
 - elevation 74.7 m (245 ft)
 - coordinates 44°06′N 76°24′W / 44.100°N 76.400°W / 44.100; -76.400
Mouth Gulf of St. Lawrence / Atlantic Ocean
 - elevation 0 m (0 ft)
 - coordinates 49°30′N 64°30′W / 49.500°N 64.500°W / 49.500; -64.500
Length 1,197 km (744 mi)
Basin 1,344,200 km2 (519,000 sq mi) [1]
Discharge for below the Saguenay River
 - average 16,800 m3/s (590,000 cu ft/s) [2]
Map of the St. Lawrence/Great Lakes Watershed

The Saint Lawrence River (French: Fleuve Saint-Laurent; Tuscarora: Kahnawáʼkye;[3] Mohawk: Kaniatarowanenneh, meaning "big waterway") is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin. The river traverses the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario and forms part of the international boundary between Ontario, Canada, and New York State in the United States. This geographic entity is coterminous with the commercial Saint Lawrence Seaway.

Geography[edit]

Downstream from Quebec City, the St. Lawrence widens into a huge estuary.

The St. Lawrence River originates at the outflow of Lake Ontario between Kingston, Ontario, on the north bank, Wolfe Island in mid-stream, and Cape Vincent, New York. From there, it passes Gananoque, Brockville, Morristown, Ogdensburg, Massena, Cornwall, Montreal, Trois-Rivières, and Quebec City before draining into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, one of the largest estuaries in the world. The estuary portion begins at the eastern tip of Île d'Orléans, just downstream from Quebec City.[2] The river becomes tidal in the vicinity of Quebec City.[4]

The Saint Lawrence River valley, from its headwaters at Lake Ontario to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, running diagonally from the lower mid-left to the upper-mid right, at night, from space, in summer 2013

The river runs 3,058 kilometres (1,900 mi) from the farthest headwater to the mouth and 1,197 km (743.8 mi) from the outflow of Lake Ontario. The farthest headwater is the North River in the Mesabi Range at Hibbing, Minnesota. Its drainage area, which includes the Great Lakes and hence the world's largest system of freshwater lakes, has a size of 1,344,200 square kilometres (518,998.5 sq mi), of which 839,200 km2 (324,016.9 sq mi) is in Canada and 505,000 km2 (194,981.6 sq mi) is in the United States. The basin covers parts of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin. The average discharge below the Saguenay River is 16,800 cubic metres per second (590,000 cu ft/s). At Quebec City, it is 12,101 m3/s (427,300 cu ft/s). The average discharge at the river's source, the outflow of Lake Ontario, is 7,410 m3/s (262,000 cu ft/s).[2]

The river includes Lake Saint-Louis south of Montreal, Lake Saint Francis at Salaberry-de-Valleyfield and Lac Saint-Pierre east of Montreal. It encompasses four archipelagoes: the Thousand Islands chain near Kingston, Ontario; the Hochelaga Archipelago, including the Island of Montreal and Île Jésus (Laval); the Lake St. Pierre Archipelago (Classified biosphere world reserve by the UNESCO in 2000) [5] and the smaller Mingan Archipelago. Other islands include Île d'Orléans near Quebec City, and Anticosti Island north of the Gaspé. It is the second longest river in Canada.

Lake Champlain and the Ottawa, Richelieu, Saguenay, and Saint-François rivers drain into the St. Lawrence.

The St. Lawrence River is in a seismically active zone where fault reactivation is believed to occur along late Proterozoic to early Palaeozoic normal faults related to the opening of Iapetus Ocean. The faults in the area are rift related and are called the Saint Lawrence rift system.

The St. Lawrence Valley is a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian division, containing the Champlain and Northern physiographic section.[6]

History[edit]

Map of 1543 showing Cartier's discoveries
Basque settlements and sites dating from the 16th and 17th centuries

Though European mariners, such as John Cabot, the brothers Gaspar and Miguel Corte-Real, and Alonso Sanchez in the 15th century and the Norse 500 years still earlier, explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence the first European explorer known to have sailed up the St. Lawrence River itself was Jacques Cartier, during his second trip to Canada in 1535, with the help of Iroquoian chief Donnacona's two sons. As he arrived in the estuary on St. Lawrence's feast day, Cartier accordingly named it the Gulf of St. Lawrence.[7] The land along the river was inhabited at the time by the St. Lawrence Iroquoians. The St. Lawrence River is partly within the U.S. and as such is that country's sixth oldest surviving European place-name.[8]

During the 16th century and up to the 18th, the Saint Lawrence Gulf and River bore witness to the earliest regular Europeans, the Basques, who arrived in pursuit of whales in early 16th century. Basque whalers and fishermen traded with native Americans and set up settlements, leaving vestiges all over the coast of eastern Canada and deep into the Saint Lawrence River. Basque commercial and fishing activity reached its peak prior to the Armada Invencible's disaster (1588), when the Spanish Basque whaling fleet confiscated by King Philip II of Spain was largely destroyed. Initially, the whaling galleons from Labourd were not affected by the Spanish defeat.

Until the early 17th century, the French used the name Rivière du Canada to designate the Saint Lawrence upstream to Montreal and the Ottawa River after Montreal. The Saint Lawrence River served as the main route for European exploration of the North American interior, first pioneered by French explorer Samuel de Champlain.

Control of the river was crucial to British strategy to capture New France in the Seven Years' War. Having captured Louisbourg in 1758, the British sailed up to Quebec the following year thanks to charts drawn up by James Cook. British troops were ferried via the St. Lawrence to attack the city from the west, which they successfully did at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

Because of the virtually impassable Lachine Rapids, the St. Lawrence was once continuously navigable only as far as Montreal. Opened in 1825, the Lachine Canal was the first to allow ships to pass the rapids. An extensive system of canals and locks, known as the Saint Lawrence Seaway, was officially opened on 26 June 1959 by Elizabeth II (representing Canada) and President Dwight D. Eisenhower (representing the United States). The Seaway now permits ocean-going vessels to pass all the way to Lake Superior.

During the Second World War, the Battle of the St. Lawrence involved submarine and anti-submarine actions throughout the lower St. Lawrence River and the entire Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Strait of Belle Isle and Cabot Strait from May to October 1942, September 1943, and again in October and November 1944. During this time, German U-boats sank several merchant marine ships and three Canadian warships.

In the late 1970s, the river was the subject of a successful ecological campaign (called "Save the River"), originally responding to planned development by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The campaign was organized, among others, by Abbie Hoffman.[citation needed]

Whales found in the Saint Lawrence River[edit]

Sources[edit]

The source of the North River in the Mesabi Range in Minnesota (Seven Beaver Lake) is considered to be the source of the Saint Lawrence River. Because it crosses so many lakes, the water system frequently changes its name. From source to mouth, the names are:

The Saint Lawrence River also passes through Lake Saint-Louis and Lake Saint-Pierre in Quebec.

Saint Lawrence River between Quebec City (seen at left) and Lévis (seen at right). The Île d'Orléans appears further in the centre.

Works[edit]

The St. Lawrence River is at the heart of many Quebec novels (Anne Hébert's Kamouraska, Réjean Ducharme's L'avalée des avalés), poems (in works of Pierre Morency, Bernard Pozier), and songs (Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne", Michel Rivard's "L'oubli", Joe Dassin's "Dans les yeux d'Émilie"), and André Gagnon's "Le Saint-Laurent"). The river was the setting for the Canadian television drama series Seaway. The river has also been portrayed in paintings, notably by the Group of Seven. In addition, the river is the namesake of Saint-Laurent Herald at the Canadian Heraldic Authority.

In 1980 Jacques Cousteau traveled to Canada to make two films on the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, Cries from the Deep and St. Lawrence: Stairway to the Sea.[11]

Saint Lawrence River in art[edit]

Vittorio Miele, Il S. Lorenzo (The Saint Lawrence River), 1975

The Italian painter Vittorio Miele dedicated several works to the Saint Lawrence River.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Natural Resources Canada, Atlas of Canada - Rivers
  2. ^ a b c Benke, Arthur C.; Cushing, Colbert E. (2005). Rivers of North America. Academic Press. pp. 989–990. ISBN 978-0-12-088253-3. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Rudes, B. Tuscarora English Dictionary Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999
  4. ^ Dawson, Samuel Edward (October 2007). The Saint Lawrence: Its Basin and Border-lands. Heritage Books. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-7884-2252-2. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Lac Saint-Pierre et son archipel. Pleinairalacarte.com (2008-11-07). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  6. ^ "Physiographic divisions of the conterminous U.S.". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  7. ^ "William Henry Johnson, ''French Pathfinders in North America'' (Project Gutenberg)". Gutenberg.org. 2007-05-20. Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  8. ^ The Spanish names Florida, Dry Tortugas, Cape Canaveral, Appalachian, and California appeared earlier.....From Spanish historian Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas's accounts, published in 1601 -- Stewart, George (1945). Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States. New York: Random House. pp. 11–17, 29. 
  9. ^ "Saint Lawrence River and Seaway". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2009-09-07. 
  10. ^ "Saint Lawrence". MSN Encarta. Retrieved 2009-09-07. 
  11. ^ Ohayon, Albert (2009). "When Cousteau Came to Canada". NFB.ca. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]