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Smiths Falls, Ontario — Central Canada
 

Smiths Falls

 
 
Smiths Falls Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., October 7, 2018
1. Smiths Falls Marker
Inscription.  

The 3 locks here were designed to overcome a series of rapids with a total fall of over 7 metres (20 feet). A set like this is known as a flight of locks - each lock raises a vessel part of the way - rather like a stairway. Construction here proved more difficult than Colonel By had expected. Cracks were discovered in the stone walls of the basin leading the single lock a quarter mile upstream. These had to be filled in and the extra work meant that the final cost for this station was more than twice the original estimate. It cost £36,000 which today would be about one million dollars.

Like Merrickville, Smiths Falls was a busy industrial centre in the 19th century with flour, shingle and sawmills as well as several foundries. One of the most famous was the Frost & Wood Manufacturing Company which operated for more than a century producing farm machinery. The town is still an important junction on the Canadian Pacific mainline between Toronto and Montreal and even in the early 20th century, barges came up the Rideau from Kingston carrying coal for the railways.

Between 1826 and 1832, an old Indian canoe route along the Rideau and Cataraqui

Smiths Falls Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., October 7, 2018
2. Smiths Falls Marker
Looking west into the Rideau River canal basin
Rivers was transformed at the command of the British government from untamed wilderness rivers into the Rideau Canal. The purpose of this remarkable artery was to provide the British army with a safe route for supplying its inland garrisons, avoiding the direct but exposed route along the St. Lawrence which only the disorganization of the American forces had prevented from being cut during the War of 1812.

The 202 km (126 miles) of waterway was made navigable by 47 locks grouped in 22 stations with their associated dams and weirs. The work was designed and superintended by the Royal Engineers, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John By; the actual construction was done by local contractors.

Despite the blockhouses along the waterway, the role of the Rideau has always been peaceful. It was a busy waterway, carrying settlers and supplies into the growing settlement of the interior until the middle of the 19th century, when larger locks were opened on the St. Lawrence. At the same time, since the possibility of war between Britain and the United States was now unlikely, the British Board of Ordnance signed the system over to the colonial government of Canada in 1856. The period of the Canal's military administration was over.

Local commercial traffic remained important until the advent of the automobile and better roads about the time of World War I. Since that time recreational

Smiths Falls Marker (back) image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., October 7, 2018
3. Smiths Falls Marker (back)
General info on Parks Canada canal operations
boating has grown steadily so that now the system, well into its second century, is busier than ever.
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Les trois écluses de Smiths Falls ont été conçues pour éviter une série de rapides d'une dénivellation totale de 7 mètres (20 pieds). Elles permettent aux embarcations de passer d'un niveau d'eau à un autre, chacune d'elles élevant les embarcations à divers paliers, un peu comme des escaliers. La construction s'est révélée plus difficile que ne l'avait pensé le colonel By. Des fissures sont apparues sur les murs de pierre du bassin conduisant à l'écluse détachée, à quelque 400 mètres en amont. Elles ont dû être réparées, ajoutant ainsi au coût total du projet, si bien qu'à la fin des travaux, les écluses avaient coûté deux fois plus cher que prévu. Les travaux ont coûté £36,000, ce qui équivaut aujourd'hui à près d'un million de dollars.

Tout comme Merrickville, Smiths Falls a été un centre commercial au XIXe siècle avecs des meuneries, des usines de bardeau, des scieries et des fonderies. L'une des entreprises les plus connues a été la Frost & Wood Manufacturing, qui a fabriqué des équipements de ferme pendant plus des 100 ans. La ville est encore un important point de raccordement sur la voie principale du Canadien Pacifique reliant Toronto et Montréal. Même au début du XXe siècle, des barges remontaient le Rideau en provenance de Kingston, transportant du charbon pour les chemins de fer.

Entre 1826 et 1832, une ancienne voie d'eau utilisée par les Indiens le long des rivières Rideau et Cataraqui fut transformée à la demande du gouvernement britannique en un réseau de voies navigables : le canal Rideau. Le but de cet ouvrage remarquable était de fournir à l'armée britannique une route sûre pour approvisionner ses garnisons. On évitait ainsi le Saint-Laurent, voie plus directe mais aussi plus dangereuse qui n'était demeurée ouverte qu'en raison de la désorganisation de l'armée américaine au cours de la guerre de 1812.

Le réseau de 202 km (126 milles) a été rendu navigable par la construction de 47 écluses regroupées en 22 postes. Les travaux ont été planifiés et surveillés par les Royal Engineers, sous le commandement de lieutenant-colonel John By. Ils ont été exécutés par des entrepreneurs locaux.

Malgré les blockhaus qui se trouvent le long du réseau, le Rideau n'a jamais été troublé par la guerre. Ce fut un cours d'eau achalandé transportant colons et approvisionnements à l'intérieur des terres jusqu'au milieu du XIXe siècle lorsque les grandes écluses du Saint-Laurent furent ouvertes à la navigation. Au même moment, la menace de guerre entre la Grande-Bretagne et les États-Unis s'étant estompée, le British Board of Ordnance céda le réseau au governement colonial du Canada en 1856. Cela mit fin à l'administration militaire du canal.

Le trafic commercial local demeura important jusqu'à l'apparition de l'automobile et la construction de meilleures routes, à l'époque de la Première Guerre mondiale. Depuis, les plaisanciers se sont faits de plus en plus nombreux, tant et si bien que le réseau, qui en est à son deuxième siècle d'existence, est maintenant plus fréquenté que jamais.
 
Erected by Parks/Parcs Canada.
 
Location. 44° 53.81′ N, 76° 1.239′ W. Marker is in Smiths Falls, Ontario. Marker is on Beckwith Street South (Provincial Highway 15) just south of Canal Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is on the "island" between the canal locks, south of Smith Falls Combined Lockstation Lock 29a. Marker is at or near this postal address: 34 Beckwith Street South, Smiths Falls, Ontario K7A 2A8, Canada.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The underwater view / La vue sous l'eau (a few steps from this marker); Automated Lock / Une écluse automatique (within shouting distance of this marker); Rotary Club Swimming Pool Stone / La pierre de la piscine du club Rotary (within shouting distance of this marker); Crossroads of the Rideau / À la croisée des chemins (within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome to Combined Locks (within shouting distance of this marker); Parc Victoria Park (within shouting distance of this marker); HMCS Smiths Falls (within shouting distance of this marker); War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Smiths Falls.
 
Also see . . .
1. Smiths Falls Official Website. (Submitted on October 12, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Rideau Canal National Historic Site. (Submitted on October 12, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Rideau Canal Videos. (Submitted on October 12, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. Man-Made FeaturesParks & Recreational AreasWar of 1812Waterways & Vessels

 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 29, 2018. This page originally submitted on October 12, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 61 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 12, 2018, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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