2. Commemorative Integrity of the Site

2.5 Other Heritage Resources

Although these heritage resources have not been designated as being of national historic significance, they nonetheless bear historical significance for the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal and are said to be “level 2 resources.” 9

  • Location and significant landscapes

The landscape surrounding the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal has been marked by the story of the canal’s evolution through various periods and retains tangible evidence that promotes understanding of the waterway’s national historic significance. The present-day site owes its heritage value to the interrelations that still survive between the natural components, represented by the basins of Lake Saint-Louis and Lake of Two Mountains, and the man-made components resulting from canalization. The landscape features associated with the history of the site’s development are as follows:

  • the canal leading to the present-day lock and its layout, walls, lock, piers, caissons and equipment, as well as the Becker Dam;
  • the parallel between the routing of the present-day canal and that of the original canal;
  • the site of the first lock, discernable even today, since its extremities are marked by the walls of the upstream and downstream entrances and, as well, the position of its side walls is shown by two rows of armour stone, which is still visible despite the fact that the lock was filled in;
  • the presence of railway bridges built over the lock since the end of the 19th century;
  • the relationship that has developed between the canal and the neighbouring town environment, exemplified by the nearby church and Saint-Anne Street, which runs parallel to the canal, as well as the well-preserved cross streets offering views of the canal downstream from the lock;
  • uninterrupted views of Lake of Two Mountains and Lake Saint-Louis, making clear the role played by the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal in linking the navigation corridors of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers.

The development of canal-related facilities was accompanied by the considerable changes occurring in the surrounding area, as the canal-side town grew, although certain components of this environment have remained intact even to this day.

  • In Situ Resources Engineering works

The cultural resources of the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal National Historic Site demonstrate the techniques of navigation and canal engineering used on both the first and second canal systems.

The resources associated with the first canal system are restricted to certain components of the first Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue lock. 10 Although no study has been carried out on the sector’s archaeological potential as a whole, it is believed that remains and artifacts, including mechanisms and operating components from this period, may lie in the earth used to fill in the first lock.

The resources related to the second canal consist of the present lock, the approach channel and the various structures associated with it, such as the piers, entrance caissons and the Becker Dam.11

There may also be some traces of the very first canal dug during the French Regime, according to a plan drawn in 1840.

Archaeological Remains Related to Built Heritage

The present site contains the remains of several structures that were built here in different periods to serve specific purposes related to operating the first and second locks, although the structures themselves have since disappeared.

These structures include the lockmasters’ houses, the superintendent’s house, the toll collector’s house, outbuildings and launching ramps. At one time, there was a small bridge that crossed the canal, just to the south of the CN railway bridge.

Old maps show that at one time there was a cemetery between the canal and Sainte-Anne Street beside the lower end of the first lock— that is, near the present-day underground storage area for girders.

Other Cultural Resources

Two railway bridges span the Ottawa River high above the canal at the place where the first and second locks stand. One of the bridges was built by the Grand Trunk in 1874 and is now used by the CN for its Montréal-Toronto rail service. This metal truss bridge has recently undergone major repair work to make it safer, and the original upper grid structure had to be dismantled. One piece of the old bridge (an eye-bar) has been kept by the CN so that it can be displayed on the national historic site.

The other bridge was built in 1887 and is used by the CP for its rail service between Montréal and Toronto. This bridge, which has undergone only very slight changes since the time it was constructed, is also made of metal but is of the plate girder type.

The remains of the Jones flourmill are probably located between the first lock and the east bank of the Ottawa River. There is no record of when the mill was built, but it was already standing in 1835. When the second lock was constructed, the mill could no longer be used, since the new canal coincided with the channel supplying the water required to produce hydraulic energy and thus activate the mill’s mechanisms.

  • Moveable Resources

Moveable resources comprise various archival materials, such as letterbooks, estimates and account ledgers dating from the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as a collection of documents, including old photographs and plans.

The artifact collection contains some 60 objects (nails and fragments of pipes, plate glass, ceramics, glassware and animal bones) that provide evidence of domestic life along the banks of the canal. This collection belongs to Parks Canada and is conserved in Québec.

A number of informants can still offer information about commercial navigation and the development of the canal in the 20th century. An ethnological study has been undertaken so that the precious memories of these people may be recorded.

Stone docks separate the canal from the town of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. The 
    locks, which are not visible in this photograph, are located below the spans 
    of the railway bridges and appear much further away than they are in reality.
The Downstream Approach Channel and Pier in 1906
© Parks Canada / neg. 160/00/IC -15 -1906


The conditions of the site’s cultural resources are briefly assessed in the State of the Parks Report (1997). In general, the navigation facilities are assessed as being in “good” to “poor” condition, depending on the structure, while the Becker Dam is reported to be in “fair” condition. With respect to archaeological resources whose state is known (essentially those associated with the 1883 lock), 83% are considered to be in “good” condition while the remainder are said to be in “fair” condition. This report makes a point of noting that a resource inventory is lacking, as is a more global assessment. The objects in the collection kept in Québec are said to be in “good” condition. The data in the 1997 report are still valid.

9Cultural Resource Management Policy, paragraph 2.2.2.

10The first lock consisted of a dressed-stone masonry structure built on a wooden apron (floor). There are few remains associated with this lock, since its gates and mechanisms were removed at one point and it was filled in at the beginning of the 1970s. The lock chamber of the first lock thus represents an important archaeological resource. The two ends of the structure were closed off with stone masonry walls. The only visible remains of the first lock are the walls to the upstream and downstream entrances and two rows of armour stone indicating the layout of the chamber’s walls. The upstream entrance has now been converted into a marina.

11The second lock is situated directly to the north of the first lock and lies parallel to it. The walls of the lock, completed in 1883, are made of dressed stone, although they have been partially covered with concrete over the years. The original sluices and gate-opening mechanisms were operated manually with a winch, but they were eventually replaced with an electric system. When the lock was converted to an electro-hydraulic system in 1974, the old wooden gates were replaced by steel ones. In some sections of the Saint-Anne-de-Bellevue Lock walls, the original dressed stone of the 1883 lock can still be seen. Development work for the second canal was carried out from 1873 to 1877. The second canal was the same length as the first one; the upstream entrance was delimited by entrance caissons, while the downstream entrance was defined by an earth levee and the Becker Dam. The new canal measured 120 feet in width and had a low-water draught of 10.5 feet. The stone wall along the north side of the first canal was replaced by a concrete one, although the position of this wall remained unchanged. The earlier wall had openings that were used as launching ramps; the largest of these lay immediately to the west of the old superintendent’s house, and a little bridge crossed it, parallel to the canal. The dam, which bears the name of its builder, Albert Becker, is undoubtedly the most imposing structure associated with the second Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal. Measuring approximately 365 m in length, the dam is formed by two parallel levees enclosing a section of a channel that had to be dug through a large shoal in order to reach the natural channel lying to the north of Perrot Island. When the dam was opened in 1877, the levees were faced with wooden caissons; these were replaced with concrete ones between 1926 and 1928. At present, their facing is in very poor condition and the levees themselves are covered with vegetation. A wooden lighthouse was built at the northwest tip of the dam around 1904 to signal the presence of the structure. In the 1930s, the lighthouse was replaced by a small metal gridwork tower with a beacon on top. The downstream pier is another structure associated with both the first and second Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue canals. Situated at the downstream entrance to the second lock, the pier makes it easier for vessels to approach the lock and marks off this particular section of the canal. Like the Becker Dam, the downstream pier has undergone various changes from the time it was first built in the early 1840s. Today the downstream pier has the same length as it had in 1867; however, different sections of its side walls are now faced with stone masonry, riprap and concrete. Parts of the old stone wall on the west side of the pier have crumbled and others are about to, while still others have been repaired with grouted riprap. Only one of the existing entrance caissons seems to stand in the same place as an earlier caisson, associated with the 1843 period, according to plans dating from 1847 and 1855. This caisson indicated the downstream entrance to the old lock. The caissons located along the upstream entrance of the present lock serve to mark the true location of the channel, which does not lie exactly parallel to the upstream levee. Today, these caissons are faced with concrete over stone fill. The concrete facing has tended to disintegrate in the past few years and corrective measures are called for.


< Previous Page  | Table of Contents  | Next Page  >