North West Company Lock
75 Huron Street, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, P6B, Canada
Links and documents
1797/01/01 to 1896/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The North West Company Lock is located at the foot of Huron Street on the St. Mary's Paper Plant site in Sault Ste. Marie, adjacent to the Canadian Canal. The lock was built in 1896 as a replica of the original lock built on the site by the North West Company in 1797, the remains of which lie under the replica. The replica is about 40 feet by 9 feet with stone walls and miniature head and tail gates.
The North West Company Lock has been recognized for its heritage value by the City of Sault Ste. Marie, By-law 2002-39. It has also been recognized by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada as a National Historic Site of Canada.
Built by the North West Company in 1797, the original lock is the oldest link in Sault Ste. Marie to the transcontinental fur trade, symbolizing the technology of that era. It was part of a water system that consisted of 2580 feet of canal and a lock, designed to raise or lower the fur trader's bateaux 9 feet, to get around the rapids on the St Mary's River.
Francis H. Clergue, an American entrepreneur who was instrumental in transforming Sault Ste. Marie into a modern industrial town at the turn of the 20th century, built the stone replica lock on the remains of the 1797 lock. Clergue built the replica in 1896 to recognize the importance of the North West Company Lock and the rapids to Sault Ste. Marie. The river brought the traders to the Sault but it was the rapids that made them pause. The original lock is the precursor to the extensive system of locks which continue to be built through the rapids on the St. Mary's River.
Sources: Sault Ste. Marie Designation By-law 2003-39, North West Company Lock Designation Report.
Key character defining elements that reflect the lock's link to the transcontinental fur trade include:
-the location of the replica and original locks adjacent to the St. Mary's River, in close proximity to the rapids
-the original wooden floor and foundation of the 1797 lock, preserved beneath the 1896 replica lock
Key character defining elements that relate to Clergue’s commemoration of the original lock include:
-the location of the 1896 replica on the remains of the original 1797 lock
-the stone walls, miniature head and tail gate of the 1896 replica lock
Local Governments (ON)
Ontario Heritage Act
Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Communications and Transportation
Function - Category and Type
- Commemorative Monument
- Canal or Canal Works
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Community Services Department, Recreation and Culture Division, City of Sault Ste. Marie
Cross-Reference to Collection
Sault Ste. Marie Museum; Sault Ste. Marie Public Library Archives