The Soulanges canal’s heritage
During your visit at the Soulanges canal, you’ll have the chance to familiarize yourself with the maritime heritage of this 19th century project. Here are a few areas to prioritize to discover its rich history!
Historical interpretation panels
By going along the Soulanges cycle path, you’ll find historical interpretation panels to help you better understand what your eyes are looking at! There are a total of ten interpretation panels spread over the 23.4 km of the canal.
To satisfy your curiosity until your visit, browse our « About, the canal’s history » section. Happy reading!
The Parc des ancres, Pointe-des-Cascades
The Parc des Ancres is located on the edge of the number 3 locks of the Soulanges canal, from either side of the rue Centrale, in the heart of the Pointe-des-Cascades village.
This place is a real open air museum, open 365 days a year and boasting an impressing collection of over 100 anchors and other artifacts from the maritime world. New interpretation panels have been added in 2020 and the central plaza has been upgraded. A stop has to be made there! Besides, it’s also at this area that the KM 0 of the Soulanges cycle path is located. The perfect place to start your day!
The Parc des ancres exists thanks to the impressive work done by the people over at the Société de Recherches historiques de Pointe-des-Cascades.
The lighthouses of Pointe-des-Cascades, Coteau-du-Lac and Les Coteaux
For nearly 60 years, day in and day out, rain or shine, four lights would show ship captains the way forward.
Whether it was from the Saint-Louis lake or the Saint-François lake, these entry lighthouses guided navigators who would begin their delicate maneuvers to enter the canal and avoid the Saint Lawrence river rapids. It’s by orienting themselves with these two lights superimposed one on top of the other that captains would align the ship on the correct approach axis. From the first steamboats in 1899 to the ocean vessels in 1958, captains would rely on these guardian lights to perform an incredible feat and align their massive ships in a 30-meter-large and 23,4 km long canal. Installed in pairs at the two ends of the canal in the spring of 1900, these four metal sentries operated by gas, and then switched to electricity in 1903.
They’re composed of four components: a pedestal raised barely above the water levels; a gas or electric lamp that would produce light; an optical system to focus this light by directing it towards the horizon and a lantern to protect the lamp and the optical system from the weather. While the landscape surrounding them has changed, we can still see, at both ends of the canal, these four sentries, now at ease.
The arches, the doors and tanks
By going through the canal, we can still notice some remnants of its golden age. The various cement and cut stone components, arranged between the six locks, bears witness to the scale and ingenuity of this massive project.
Between the large lock doors and the jetties, we can still see the arches that were part of those reaches, these big artificial basins that would hold the water between two locks.
Distributed all along the canal, the abutments, which would support the decks of the five swinging bridges, are still very visible. While these structures bear witness to the technical innovation used in the construction and operation of the canal, they now contribute to the aesthetic qualities of this exceptional place and the cultural landscape of the region.
Le Petit pouvoir, Les Cèdres
The electrification of the Soulanges canal lead to the creation of a building whose architecture, even today, take people by surprise and give them a sense of wonder. Designed for industrial purposes, the hydroelectric power plant stands out from the other buildings sheltering the canal’s facilities and employees. Influenced by a typically Canadian architecture influence, the building has a “castle” style. Listed as a historic monument by the Quebec Ministry of Cultural Affairs in 1984 (now the Quebec Ministry of Culture and Communications), this jewel of Quebec heritage bears witness to the dynamism and the importance that surrounded the Soulanges canal. The Little Power of the Cedars is one of only four hydroelectric power stations that were built in Quebec before 1900 and that still stand today.