Welland Canal construction

Pictured here, in 1924, is the construction of Lock #5 of the Welland Canal.

The canal, under construction from 1913 to 1935, had production numbers that were quite staggering, given this project started over a century ago.

Over 40 million cubic meters of earth  and over 7 million cubic meters of rock were excavated. Additionally, some 2.3 million cubic meters of concrete was placed. However, the human price of this job was incredibly high—138 workers were killed over the duration of construction.

As construction progressed, various sized concrete mixers wit capacities of up to 40 cubic yards were located near locks. Mixed concrete in buckets was shuttled by the construction railway that operated the 43 km (27 miles) length of the canal. Also, the trains brought aggregate from the on-site crusher to the workers.

The Canada Cement Company had established a cement plant in Port Colborne by 1913 in anticipation that work would begin.

In the early 1900s, Blaw-Knox Co. patented reusable steel concrete travelling forms & delivery towers, which were utilized throughout the canal’s construction. The concrete buckets could be hoisted up the delivery tower and workers could let gravity place the concrete into the forms.

Unfortunately, in 1925 at Lock #5, the Blaw-Knox travelling form collapsed while it was being moved, causing the death of three workers.

Several years ago, a group of local historians to research where and how these 138 men lost their lives during the construction of this canal.

Many were immigrants that couldn’t speak English, while others were inexperienced around the equipment.

Once the local group completed their research, they set out to create the “Fallen Workers Memorial,” which was unveiled in 2017—a fitting tribute set in a prominent location near Lock #3 of the Welland Canal.

Image and article courtesy of HCEA Canada.