The Lost Villages of St. Lawrence

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In 1954, the United States and Canada jointly embarked on a massive engineering project that involved the creation of a 600-km-long navigable channel that will allow ocean freighters travelling from the Atlantic Ocean to gain access to the inland ports along the Great Lakes of North America. The Seaway Project had another purpose, and this was to provide much needed hydro-electric power to the region.

After four years of construction, the Saint Lawrence Seaway —named after the Saint Lawrence River, which flows from Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean— was complete. On July 1, 1958, the cofferdams that had been holding back the water during construction were finally blown apart, and a small group of riverside communities in the Canadian province of Ontario, near Cornwall, disappeared under the waves of Lake St. Lawrence. This group of nine villages — Aultsville, Dickinson’s Landing, Farran’s Point, Maple Grove, Mille Roches, Moulinette, Santa Cruz, Wales and Woodlands— are now collectively known as "The Lost Villages".
The villages were settled in the late 18th century by the Loyalists —those American colonists who remained loyal to the British Crown during the American War of Independence. After the defeat of their cause, thousands fled to other parts of the British Empire, and to what is now Canada. At the time of the Seaway’s construction, the Lost Villages were populated mainly by descendants of the Loyalists.

The flooding for Lake St. Lawrence destroyed more than 8,000 hectares of prime farmland and mature orchards, and displaced 6,500 people. The residents were relocated to two new planned communities named Long Sault and Ingleside. Some five hundred buildings were moved, and countless other homes, schools, and businesses were demolished. Railway lines and highways also had to be moved out of the flood zone. Many of these roads remain visible under the waters to this day.

In 1977, the Lost Villages Historical Society was formed with the mission to educate the public about the loss of communities which formerly existed along the St. Lawrence River. There is a museum in Ault Park now near Long Sault devoted to the Lost Villages where you can see several artifacts salvaged from the communities.

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