Sault Canal Reconstruction to be completed by 2020

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Not since Parks Canada took over the operation at the Sault Canal historic site in 1979 has there ever been so much work going on. It’s about too, most of the buildings are falling apart and inhabitable, but that’s a bout to chance in a big way.

SSM Canal Stores Building - exterior before 2A five year, $12.3 million dollar, reconstruction and infrastructure improvements program including roads, buildings and new construction is currently underway. The project started in September 2015 and will take until 2020 to complete.

Last summer a total of $12.3 Million of Federal Infrastructure Investment funding was announced for projects underway at the SSM Canal NHS. Of this funding, $3 Million has been allocated to the rehabilitation of the Stores Building.  By preventing the deterioration of this building, Parks Canada is able to further enhance the visitor experience at the site, providing more opportunities for Canadians to learn about the diverse history of the area.

The buildings are crumbling
The buildings are crumbling

The restoration work currently underway will incorporate this structure into the visitor offerings at the SSM Canal NHS. This project will ultimately involve the removal and reconstruction of the south wall of the building – taking the wall apart stone by stone, restoring the foundations and rebuilding it to maintain the heritage appeal of the building.

Cracks in the wall are just some of the major structural work that is being fixed.
Cracks in the wall are just some of the major structural work that is being fixed.

Currently on the list for reconstruction include the Superintendent’s Residence
at $1.2 million .This project will conserve and rehabilitate the building to prevent further degradation. $2.2 million will be spent on the Stores Building for structural stabilization
The building is in critical failure and this project will address urgently needed structural stabilization. Another big spend of 3.3 million will be used to rehabilitate and reconstruct the roads going into the park area.  This project includes the design and repaving of the entry road that is beyond its life cycle. It includes storm water and road bed, road surface, curbs, walkways and surrounding landscapes.

SSM Canal Stores Building - shoring interior April 2016One of the biggest projects includes the Powerhouse and Associated Structures. Close to 6 million will be spent to will restore structural integrity and protect historic fabric. The design of water infiltration management will be completed.

Completed in 1895, this canal formed the last link in an all-Canadian navigation system stretching from the St. Lawrence River to Lake Superior. Designed and built by Canadians, the canal incorporated several engineering innovations. It was the world’s longest lock and the first to operate with electrical power. It was also novel in using an emergency swing dam to protect the lock in case of an accident.

SSM Canal Stores Building - aerial view historicElectricity was generated on site in the powerhouse. Closed in 1987 owing to a lock wall failure, the canal was equipped with a modern lock and opened for recreational use in 1998.

Sault Ste Marie Canal National Historic Site welcomes nearly 100,000 land based visitors and 55,000 water based visitors every year.

SSM Canal Stores Building - interior before
some of the walls have actually shifted and moved away from the floors.
aerial view in April 2016
aerial view in April 2016