National Geographic : 1963 Jul
Canada's Newest Giant: Ontario From Sault Ste. Marie I drove southward around Georgian Bay toward Lake Ontario. This time I skipped Algonquin Provincial Park's 2,910 square miles of vacationtime lakes and woods, happily familiar to most Torontonians. I wanted to see what was new on the St. Lawrence River. Few parts of Ontario have changed more in recent years than the upper St. Lawrence. The hydroelectric developments at Cornwall and at Massena, New York, created Lake St. Lawrence. The lake necessitated the re moval of entire towns and villages before flooding began. Long Sault, like its neighbor villages, new Iroquois and Ingleside, did not exist when I visited the area ten years ago. Planned to the last detail on paper, Long Sault gleams with modern homes and a shopping center, churches and schools. "Those islands facing Long Sault," said a local woman, "they used to be hills, with valleys and fields between them-and be tween the river and this new townsite." Had it taken long for the farms to disap pear, the hills to become islands? All ship ping in the seaway ceased for three days, she told me. Thirty tons of dynamite breached the 600-foot-long earth dam that had di verted the river's flow. That was on July 1, 1958. Next day, slowly, the fields changed: "They looked like mammoth blotters soak ing up spilled water." Lake Covers Homes and Farms The lake broadened and rose steadily un til many local residents, watching anxiously, began to pray that the engineers had made their calculations correctly. But the rise stopped as planned when the water reached the 238-foot mark. Today the lake stretches 28 miles upstream from the Cornwall generating stations to Iroquois, covering some 100 square miles of Ontario and the State of New York. "It was a great day for some, a shame for others," one man remarked. "Folks hated to leave homes their ancestors built back in the 18th century." On a two-hour boat trip down Lake St. Lawrence, I cruised over villages, cemeteries, railway tracks and yards, 14-foot-deep canals, 35 miles of paved road, 225 farms. As we watched a Norwegian freighter emerge from the Eisenhower Lock, a guide reminded us that there were in fact two great projects here, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the power installations. He described Mas sena Intake on the American side, the great Long Sault Dam, and then the Robert Saun ders and Robert Moses installation. The Saunders half was built by Canada, the other by the United States. Each plant has a capacity of 940,000 kilo watts. And that power is generated by water that has already produced twice as much at Niagara. It is part of the 6,470,000 kilowatts generated by Ontario installations. Queen Chose Site for Capital Back in 1857 Queen Victoria, armed with the recommendations of the colonial govern ment, looked at the still largely empty map of Canada and chose a site on the Ottawa River, 100 miles west of Montreal, as the capital. It wasn't a popular choice. Ottawa, charged one Torontonian (who had hoped that his Amber durum wheat from Saskatchewan, prized for macaroni making, undergoes grading by inspector John Bisby at Port Arthur. Grain from Canada's prairie prov inces flows to Lake Superior elevators.