Welland Recreational Waterway

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The Recreational Waterway north of the Townline Road plug.

The Welland Recreational Waterway is a water channel in the city of Welland, Ontario, Canada. It is an old alignment of the Welland Ship Canal that has been abandoned after the construction of the Welland By-Pass in the 1970s. The Waterway is now managed by the Welland Recreational Canal Corporation to provide enjoyment for the city's residents. Most local residents refer to it as the old canal or simply the canal.

Original plans[edit]

The bottom of the canal was at a time proposed to become a roadbed for an extension of Highway 406. However, that never came to be and the old canal was retained in an almost original state with the purpose of developing several recreational facilities and tourist attractions along its shores. The plans called for fishing platforms, water slides, boat rental points, as well as marine and rail historical exhibits. To date most of these plans have not been realized, but some are in the process of being accomplished.

Changes[edit]

Some changes have been made to the Waterway's original shape since the construction of the By-Pass. The most significant modification is an earth plug that bisects the Waterway along Ontario Highway 58A (between Humberstone Road and Townline Tunnel Road). This was necessary due to very long (4 km, or 2.5 miles) low-grade approaches to the Townline Tunnel required for trains to travel underneath the new canal segment.

The Waterway's no-wake zone. Merritt Island with its path appear opposite the channel.

As multiple leaking problems were surfacing with the aqueduct that carries the Welland River underneath the old alignment, it was decided to control the problem by drilling intentional holes in the aqueduct. As a result, the Welland River downstream of the aqueduct is partially fed from the canal, and the flow in the northern section of the Waterway has reversed to compensate for the water flowing into the river.

The old alignment was originally spanned by five vertical lift bridges and a railroad swing bridge (bridge 15). After the relocation, two of the bridges were replaced by modern fixed-span bridges and another had its towers removed due to excessive cost of potential renovation. Two more bridges were built in the northern section of the Waterway, and a bridge was constructed in downtown Welland to twin the East Main Street bridge.

The Waterway today[edit]

Today, pedestrian and bicycle pathways line both banks of the Waterway. A section that is particularly popular is the path on Merritt Island, a carefully cared for, elongated strip of land created when the old alignment of the canal was constructed basically parallel to the Welland River. Signs outlining the path and listing local attractions have been erected along the paths.

Welland City Councillors placed a motorboat prohibition on the waterway known as the "Go Quietly" by-law,[1] turning the former shipping canal into a waterway suitable for kayaking, rowing, canoeing and paddle boating.

The Welland Recreational Canal Corporation [2] is an organization whose board of directors is made up of three members of city council and six citizens. The corporation is responsible for the protection and development of the canal and adjacent lands, and has inaugurated various programs, including a canoe/paddle boat rental facility and numerous fishing platforms.

Downtown Welland, with the Waterway in the foreground, the Civic Square on the left, and the historic vertical lift East Main Street Bridge (Bridge #13) on the right.

Future plans[edit]

The Waterway is seen as a crucial part of plans for revival of downtown Welland. The Civic Square, housing the city hall and the library, was newly built by the canal. The Welland Recreational Waterway Master Plan is available online [3] and details proposals for the future of the canal.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2005-92 (City of Welland By-law)". Retrieved 2007-11-18. 
  2. ^ "Welland Recreational Canal Corporation". Retrieved 2007-11-18. 
  3. ^ "Welland Recreational Canal Master Plan". Retrieved 2007-11-18. 

External links[edit]

  • The Welland Public Library's Canal history pages contain many newspaper clippings and photos documenting the Welland Canal's history in general

Coordinates: 43°03′24″N 79°13′50″W / 43.0568°N 79.23065°W / 43.0568; -79.23065