Already during our first evening in Montréal, our Airbnb host Olivier mentioned the Lachine Canal. At that time he suggested us to rent bikes and ride along the canal. We did, however, never rent any bikes in Montréal. But we did find our way to the beginning of the Lachine Canal during our last day in the city. This waterway from 1824 became our guiding path from the Old Harbor back to our accommodation in Saint-Henri. A nice walk in a city that for once offered us some sunshine.
A Walk Along the Lachine Canal
The name Lachine comes from the French word for China. Apparently, there was a wish to find a short route from New France to the western sea and China. The canal is 14.5 kilometers long and it runs from the Old Port in Montréal to Lake Saint-Louis. Plans for a canal were drafted as early as in the 17th century, it took over 130 years before it was ready. Initially, the canal was important mainly for transportation as it bypassed the Lachine rapids. However, with technological developments, the industrial area moved from what is now Downtown Montréal to the canal banks. At the same time, new working-class neighborhoods emerged nearby, including the one in St-Henri.
The canal operated successfully until the mid-19th century. The St.Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959 and replaced the Lachine canal, it was closed to commercial navigation in 1970.
Nowadays, the Lachine Canal is a National Historic Site of Canada since 1929. According to Parks Canada, “the heritage value of the Lachine Canal lies in the layout of the canal and the illustration of its historic role in the development of the country and of the city of Montréal.”
Indeed, walking along the canal is quite remarkable. While the trail cannot be said to be beautiful – it is actually quite rough – all the old and deserted industrial buildings bear witness of Montréal’s past. The walk itself is quite pleasant, and especially worthwhile if you plan to go to either Pointe-Saint-Charles or Saint-Henri. One can either take a bike or walk along the canal.
We will continue our trip, read more about our adventure in North America here >>