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St. Lawrence Seaway, 1959-1984


St. Lawrence Seaway, 1959-1984



Date of Issue

June 26, 1984




Postal Administration


Perforation or Dimension



Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited.


Designed by Ernst Barenscher

About Stamp

The St. Lawrence River connects the Atlantic Ocean to the farthest reaches of Lake Superior, 3750 km away and 200 m above sea level. The present seaway culminates almost 300 years of effort to improve navigation on the "River of Canada." Jacques Cartier, the first European to explore the St. Lawrence, viewed it as a possible route to China. However, European ships could not pass beyond the Lachine Rapids at Montreal Island. Work began in 1700 to bypass the rapids with a canal, but the contractor went bankrupt before completing the project. In 1749 Father Francis Piquet urged the French government to make the St. Lawrence navigable by ship all the way to Lake Ontario, but the money was unavailable. Alexander Mackenzie, the explorer, proposed a similar project in 1801. The first canals on the river opened in the eighteenth century, but it was the prodigious canal-building efforts of the nineteenth century that finally established a shipping route on the St. Lawrence between Montreal and Lake Ontario in 1851. Between 1900 and about 1950, there was much talk, many studies, and some negotiations with the United States about building a deeper seaway. The Second World War showed the inadequacy of the old system. Increasing trade and population and the ever-growing demand for electric power further demonstrated the need for a massive new project. Canada and the United States came to an agreement on the matter in 1954. In the next five years, for a shared cost of about one billion dollars, the two countries created 2,200,000 horsepower in electrical generating capacity and replaced the old "fourteen foot" waterway by a channel nine metres deep with half the locks previously needed. Queen Elizabeth II and President Dwight Eisenhower officially opened the Seaway on 26 June 1959. The stamp, by Toronto designer Ernst Barenscher, illustrates the entire waterway made navigable by the St. Lawrence Seaway. The first seven locks on the right of the stamp design comprise the jointly constructed St. Lawrence Seaway; the middle eight locks are the Welland Canal; and on the left are the Great Lakes and the locks at Sault Ste. Marie. A red highlight denotes the city of Cornwall, which is headquarters of the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority and is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. The day of issue cancellation features a logo specially designed by the Ontario Government for the Seaway's twenty-fifth anniversary.


Canada Post Corporation. [Postage Stamp Press Release], 1984.

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