Welland Canal mapping project helps bring historic canals to life!
Guest speaker Colleen Beard, Map Librarian and Head, Data & GIS Library of the James Gibson Library at Brock University spoke about the Historic Welland Canals Mapping Project.
Contemporary technologies for data capture and mapping have revolutionized the way information can be collected and shared. Colleen has been applying these technologies to map the three 19th century historic Welland Canal routes and their features as they appear in today’s landscape.
Colleen pointed out that the aim is to resurrect Welland canal history. Hundreds of historical maps and photos have been converted to a digital for-mat to visualize the routes and features of the 19th century canals. The project includes an interactive web site that makes the data available for the world to view and use.
The collection of data involved mapping every lock, bollard, weir, weirpond, towpath, raceway, bridge and tunnel as these appear on today’s land-scape. The collection involved extensive hiking, covering over 80 km either by foot, bicycle or boat taking hundreds of photos, videos and a substantial inventory of visible canal remnants.
Colleen demonstrated how the web site can be used to compare past and present landscapes and how to zoom to different areas and features of the canal. She said that all three historic canals used Port Dalhousie at the north terminus. While the first two used the natural waterways of the 12-Mile creek and Dicks creek, the third route crossed St. Catharines and used a less-steep approach up the escarpment.
She displayed numerous then and now images including the Pedestrian Tunnel at Lock 16 also known as the Blue Ghost Tunnel and, from the third canal, the Niagara St. overpass as it looks today and, skaters on the canal in 1920.
She pointed out that much of the route of the third canal is accessible via greenways to Lock 10 at Victoria Lawn Cemetery.
Colleen said that the ultimate goal of the project to map the canals would be for a federal heritage designation.
To find out more about the project you can do a Google search: Brock maps geodata and go to the Welland Canals Mapping Project under Digital Exhibits.