The year is 1905 and Montreal seeing major port activity. The Port of Montreal is a gateway for immigrants and tourists, as well a hub for trade, mail and goods from around the world. The grain grown in the west of the country also passes through the port. The Lachine Canal is still being heavily used to transport this grain to the port, where it will be loaded onto ships. This is still the most economical way.

The boat as a means of transportation has evolved over the years. The use of steamboats has made shipping goods and mail much faster. Immigrants can also make the crossing from Europe to Canada on this type of boat, which is not dependent on ocean winds and currents, unlike a sailboat. Just imagine! A sailboat can take up to three weeks to travel from Montreal to Quebec, while a steamboat, which is more reliable and much faster, can make the same journey in about 20 hours. This time savings is helping the province’s economic development.

However, in the winter, the Port of Montreal is cut off from the rest of the world. The port is closed for at least four months out of the year due to ice. This explains why the arrival of the first boat in the spring symbolizes a return to life.

But there are not only large steamboats plying the St. Lawrence. Sailboats are still being used to transport hay or wood. Merchants from around Montreal, Quebec City or Trois-Rivières go to sell their products in the towns. Even with the train and our new roads, we cannot make do without our mighty St. Lawrence.

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social