Without the Canal, Montreal wouldn’t be Montreal

Traders who want to get to the interior of the continent have to go around the Lachine Rapids. Do the rapids represent an obstacle? A stepping stone, more likely. The 14-km-long navigable corridor built to bypass them generates impressive maritime traffic. And, from 1840 to 1940, no fewer than 800 businesses locate on either side of the Lachine Canal, considered to be the cradle of Canada’s manufacturing industry.

Sequence 1 Extreme adventure

The Lachine Rapids are a major obstacle for anyone travelling to the interior of the continent. The canal built to bypass them and the industrial development on its banks are two major feats of the era.

Sequence 2 A silken history

Silk has always been the stuff of dreams. On the south side of the canal, the Belding brothers’ spinning mill produces industrial quantities of silk used to make fashionable crinolines, silk stockings as well as decorations for heroes of the European wars.

Sequence 3 Cotton mills

Cotton mills are also among the industries that appear alongside the canal. Mechanization influences the mills’ architecture, production volume and rate of work. A movement begins to improve the conditions of the workers, who are mostly women and children. 

Sequence 4 Long before cell phones

In the 19th century, the bustling canal district attracts giants from of industry, including telephony. Northern Electric builds one of Montreal’s most imposing plants.

Sequence 5 Thirsty industries

Industry requires large volumes of water to power its machines. Managing the Lachine Canal’s water is problematic from the start, since the requirements of navigation and industrial production both have to be met.

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