The Chambly Canal along a part of the upper Richelieu River helps connect the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec to Lake Champlain in Vermont and New York. The canal and its locks allowed boats to bypass the Richelieu River rapids near Chambly and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Work began on this canal in 1831 and was completed in 1843. The canal from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu to Chambly is 12 miles (19 km) long.
Indians and French settlers used the Richelieu River and recognized its strategic military importance as a probable invasion route. A series of forts were built in the 1600s and 1700s to help defend it.
The Chambly Canal was part of a network of canals, lakes and rivers connecting New York City to the Saint Lawrence River and Montréal. Freight such as lumber and coal could be shipped from the St. Lawrence River, up the Richelieu River and Chambly Canal to Lake Champlain, and down the Champlain Canal to the Hudson River to New York City. The Hudson River is also connected to the Erie Canal. The Chambly Canal was an important part of increasing Canadian-American trade into the 20th Century. After World War I (1914-1918) freight traffic declined, but has partially been replaced since with tourist pleasure cruises.
Connecting Migration Routes. The Richelieu River and Chambly Canal are linked to other migration routes at each end.
The migration pathways connected at the south end included:
- Lake Champlain with connections to:
The migration pathways connected at the north end included:
Also, the Chambly Canal and Richelieu River run parallel to part of the Lake Champlain Trail from Albany, New York to Sorel-Tracy, Quebec.
Settlers and Records
The earliest European settlers in the Richelieu River area were French. Irish laborers were used to build the Chambly Canal by hand.
No complete list of settlers who used the Richelieu River - Chambly Canal is known to exist. Nevertheless, local and county histories along that route may reveal pioneer settlers who arrived after 1843 and therefore who were the most likely candidates to have traveled the Richelieu River - Chambly Canal.
- Wikipedia contributors, "Chambly Canal" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chambly_Canal (accessed 7 June 2011).
- Wikipedia contributors, "Richelieu River" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richelieu_River (accessed 8 June 2011).
- Parks Canada, "Waterway History," Chambly Canal National Historic Site Canada at http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/qc/chambly/natcul/natcul2/natcul2a.aspx (8 June 2011).
- Parks Canada, "Did you know?," Chambly Canal National Historic Site Canada at http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/qc/chambly/natcul/natcul2/natcul2e.aspx (9 June 2011).