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The Official Opening of the New Trent Canal Lock at Fenelon Falls, July 27, 1963

July 23, 2023

Fenelon Falls Locks circa 1965

From the Tweedsmuir History of Fenelon Falls

Fenelon Falls’ original locks were built between 1882 and 1887, but did not become functional until 1894, because the fixed train bridge blocked the watercourse. Using the technology of the day it required two locks to overcome the change in elevation between Cameron and Sturgeon Lakes. The original Stone locks served well for generations, though the wooden gates often had to be replaced. The two-stage lock also necessitated a swing bridge, which was quite a bottleneck for traffic in the summer.

In 1961, the Federal Government began refurbishing the Fenelon Locks station. Over two winters, the Fenelon Falls Lock was reconstructed into a single lift, which would subsequently allow for the installation of the present fixed concrete bridge over the canal. W.G. Jackett and Sons Construction had the job (a subcontract) of excavating the new lock, and George can still remember what it was like to make the lock pit. For more information check out:

The Original Story in the Tweedsmuir History of Fenelon Falls

July 27, 1963 witnessed the opening of the new lock replacing the two built 1882-7, and is the first stage in a 10-year program for upgrading the entire Trent Canal System.

Dr. Pauline Jewett, Liberal M.P. for Northumberland officiated. She was introduced by Mr. George A. Hickson for our Reeve, Mr. Morley Elliott who was ill. Mr. A.W. Robson, President of the Fenelon Falls Historical Society, added a bit of historical background. Rev. E.G. MacDonald led in prayer and Father C. Kay blest the lock which he said would give much healthful pleasure to Canadians and Americans in the coming years as they traversed the waterways from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay. Mr. Clayton Hodgson, former M.P. was a passenger on one of the first boats to lock through. Mr. C.E. Edwards also had that thrill and recalled as a very small lad the opening of the first set of locks.

The new lock, 142 feet long, 33 feet wide – Lift 24 feet; walls 35 feet high, maximum thickness 15 feet is the first electrically operated steel metre gates on the Canal System and is operated from a Control Tower by Walter Bown, Lockmaster, who has a view of the entire structure. Water turbulence hazards have been largely eliminated as the new lock is filled and emptied through 2 culverts through the lock walls via 48 special steel filling ports. The complete operation takes 11 minutes against 35 minutes for the old locks. The estimated cost was $650,000.00; the contractor, Canadian Dredge and Dock Co. of Toronto and the Dominion Bridge Company of Montreal.

Glowing tribute was paid to the quality of workmanship revealed when the old structure was demolished. It served well for 85 years.

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