If I give you a name, would you know who it is?
William Hamilton Merritt
The name didn’t mean anything to me until today. My wife and I were driving back from Niagara Falls on the Lake and I took the local road into St. Catharines. We crossed the Welland Canal and were noticing and amazed at the mechanism that would raise the road. Normally, our drive in the area bypasses St. Catharines all together as we take the Queen Elizabeth Way but the local route inspired me to turn left to drive along side the Canal and we ended up at Lock 3.
Lock 3 is also the location for the St. Catharine’s Museum and we had some time so decided to tour the Museum. When we exited, we were in for a real treat. A ship had entered the lock on its way from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. We watch the whole process of the lock filling, doors opening, and the ship gliding away. We then hopped in the car to trace out the rest of the route that would be taken and ended up at Lock 7 in Thorold. The majesty and mechanics of what we were seeing was quite something. Heck, on the way, we even saw a bridge that raised train tracks for ships to pass.
It made our trip the Museum even more powerful. It was there that we learned that William Hamilton Merritt is attributed with the idea that a canal with locks like this would allow ships to traverse all of the Great Lakes. In the museum, there was an interesting comparison of the Welland, Suez, and Panama Canals with Welland being constructed well before the other two. What sticks out to me in all of this is the vision that Merritt had to fund the construction of the Canal. I kept thinking that much of our thinking pales in comparison to this. Here was a person with a vision who clearly made results happen. It makes the question “Could my students blog?” miniscule by comparison. But the key is perseverance and we have the success today.
Or do we?
Part of my learning today included the fact that the Welland Canal is actually the fourth Canal joining Lakes Ontario and Erie. Now, it gets really important. If we don’t get it right the first time, redoing things until you achieve success is crucial. How powerful are these lessons.
Below, you’ll find the pictures that I took of the Dutch boat as it went through the lock. It’s a big deal for everyone. While we’re taking pictures of them, crew members are up on the deck taking pictures of us!
By the way, the irony of the name of the equipment on board did not escape me!
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