Key achievements

What is a management plan?

A management plan is a plan for the future. It provides the opportunity to establish and strengthen relationships with the community and stakeholders. It guides decision making so visitors can experience and enjoy the national historic site while making sure that natural and cultural heritage features are protected. It is a chance to celebrate past successes, re-evaluate goals and create new strategies for the future.

Parks Canada manages national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas for all Canadians. You can help by sharing your thoughts and ideas on the future of Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site.

Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site

The Sault Ste. Marie Ship Canal officially opened for traffic in September 1895. It completed the last link in an all Canadian waterway stretching over 3,500 kilometres along the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system. Part of an important commercial highway, the canal facilitated the movement of raw materials from the west to markets in the east and beyond, as well as the movement of people and products westward, helping to build the Nation. When it opened, the canal held the honour of being the longest lock in the world, and the first to operate using electricity. The canal was transferred to Parks Canada in 1979 in recognition of its value as a heritage canal. It was designated a national historic site in 1987.

Today the Sault Ste. Marie Canal welcomes over 100,000 land-based visitors a year to explore the beautiful grounds and historic red sandstone buildings. Over 50,000 water-based visitors pass through the recreational lock each season. Site visitors can witness firsthand the nineteenth century marvels of engineering that made the canal nationally significant, learn about the rich connections the site has with the St. Marys Rapids and local Indigenous communities, and experience how historic machinery works alongside modern technology to facilitate water travel between two of the largest freshwater lakes in the world.

Key achievements since 2007

The last management plan for the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site was written in 2007. The site has met many of the objectives set out in the plan, while others will be reviewed and may be included in the site’s new 2017 Management Plan.

A number of education and interpretation objectives have been successfully carried out since 2007. Visitors now have the opportunity to learn from new interpretive panels at the Emergency Swing Dam and public tours of the re-opened powerhouse building, while young visitors now enjoy site-specific activity booklets and education programs. We are also very pleased to have had the opportunity to assist Batchewana First Nation in developing trails and interpretation panels for Whitefish Island National Historic Site.

Visitors have also experienced site improvements to services and facilities. These improvements include the relocation of the visitor centre to the Powerhouse Building, construction of new washroom facilities, and the expansion of parking and renewal of sidewalks and roadways. We are proud of our commitment to comfort, safety and accessibility at the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site.

In keeping with Parks Canada’s mandate to both present and protect nationally significant examples of cultural and natural heritage, our 2007 Management Plan outlined a variety of conservation objectives which have been achieved. Thanks to the completion of repairs on the recreational lock, it now operates at nearly 100% efficiency. In addition, some historic buildings on site were restored in 2013 and 2016, and others are in the process of restoration. Preservation of the cultural landscape is accomplished through grounds maintenance and a treeplanting program, as well as through a beautification program run out of the site greenhouse in partnership with the Sault Ste. Marie Horticultural Society.

How to participate

You can share your views on any aspect of the draft management plan by:

You can learn more about the management plan here.