The focus of the St. Catharines Collection is depictions of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Welland Canals. The various canal routes provided the economic engine for the Niagara Region, overtaking agriculture, land transportation and cross-border trade. Allowing shipping to bypass the Niagara River cataract was crucial to the area’s prosperity, even after the start of mass production of hydro-electricity. Construction of the canals allowed for water-powered industries to prosper. Race St. in St. Catharines is named for the mill race which ran along the side of the valley, below downtown St. Catharines. The skilled workforce attracted to the area by the construction and development of the Welland Canal system allowed for subsequent economic development. The Welland Canal has been expanded four times since 1829 when the first cargo vessel moved from Pt. Dalhousie to Pt. Robinson, and then over to the Chippewa River, down to the Niagara River, and on to Buffalo and Lake Erie. The best-known artists and engravers include T. H. Wilkinson, Alexander von Erichsen, William Craig, Eugene Haberer and and Lucius R. O’Brien. Further enquiries about this collection can be made directly to the Gallery.
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