"Diagram of the Inland Water Communication from Lake Huron to the Bay of Quinte with the Cobourg Rail Road Connecting Rice Lake with Lake Ontario," 1866
The inland waters consist of the Canadian portions of four of the five Great Lakes --Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario -- and the St. Lawrence Seaway and River, extending from just west of Thunder Bay to the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. Canada's inland waters form the largest freshwater system in the world and its weather systems affecting shipping are diverse.
The wide expanse and enormous depth of Lake Superior can rival the oceans for the ferocity of its storms. Shipping on Lake Huron can meet hazardous north winds that have built up, unobstructed, for more than two hundred miles. Lake Erie is the meeting point of competing air currents that can raise its shallow waters up to two meters in a few hours. Meanwhile, Lake Ontario is known for its sudden and deadly squalls. Finally, there is the ice and dense fog that covers the St. Lawrence for portions of the year, conditions that Jacques Cartier noticed when he brought the first major ships into the area in 1535. Countless wrecks are located throughout the inland waters as a result of these weather conditions.
Conflict also played a role sinking ships in the latter part of the 18th, and the beginning of the 19th century. The War of 1812 especially saw the sinking of numerous vessels in the Great Lakes and nearby rivers.
Though the St. Lawrence became the main water entrance to the North American interior, it was continuously navigable to only Montréal until the construction of the Lachine Canal in 1825. With the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway system of locks, channels and canals in 1959, the whole of the inland waters became accessible to super tankers and other large, ocean-going vessels.
The last major freighter to be lost in these waters was the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975, which sank so quickly during a fierce storm on Lake Superior that the captain was unable to send out a distress signal.
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http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/dataservices/wall_maps/MCR0039.jpg/image_view (accessed September 30, 2005).
The Atlas of Canada - Map of Quebec. Natural Resources Canada.
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Bourie, Mark. Ninety Fathoms Down: Canadian Stories of the Great Lakes. Toronto: Hounslow Press, 1995.
"Cartier, Jacques." The Canadian Encyclopedia.
www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0001439 (accessed September 30, 2005).
Gilham, Skip. Ships in Trouble: The Great Lakes, 1850-1930. St. Catharines, Ontario: Looking Back Press, 2003.
"St Lawrence Seaway." The Canadian Encyclopedia.
www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0007095 (accessed September 30, 2005).
"L'Escadre Verte Ayant été Accueilli d'Une Violente Tempete dans la Rivière de St Laurent le Tonnere Tomba sur L'Oisseau Amiral que en ful Consume; Il n'y ent de Sauve de Tout l'Equipage que deux femmes etrangeres, qui se jettent à la Mer, et Gagnerent la Pointe d'Un Rocher qui Étoit Proche"