Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in the House today to recognize that November 30, 2004 marks the 175th anniversary of the Welland Canal, a world renowned waterway that runs through my riding. In Canada's earliest years, water transport of goods was essential in opening Canada's trade routes to the world. The Welland Canal was one of these routes from the heartland of the Great Lakes to foreign ports in far off lands.
The canal, originally built in 1829 to bypass Niagara Falls, has been refined to become a Canadian engineering feat, linking Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The canal today is 43 kilometres long and contains eight locks that lift or lower ships a total of 325 feet across the Niagara Escarpment. Since the canal's opening, it has witnessed over 100,000 ship transits and movement of billions of tonnes of cargo. It is an integral part of the St. Lawrence Seaway's network of waterways, which coincidentally celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The Welland Canal has helped shape the geographic, cultural, and economic landscape of Niagara while bringing much growth in commerce for Canada.
I would like to congratulate all those connected with the Welland Canal, including all those who contributed to its construction and operation, and shipping companies and the crews of all the ships who transit this waterway in an environmentally friendly way.