Nature’s Past – Episode 45: The St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project

Construction of St. Lawrence Seaway, 1950s. Source: Wilfrid Laurier University Archives & Special Collections.

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Episode 45: The St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project, 29 October 2014 [56:00]
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It cuts through the centre of the continent linking all of the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. Long the ambition of governments, industry, and continentalist visionaries, the St. Lawrence Seaway fulfilled the mid-century modernist dream of transforming the Great Lake cities of North America into international seaports.

Between 1954 and 1959, Canada and the United States jointly constructed a series of canals and locks to create a single navigable system from the port at Montreal through the Great Lakes. Building upon previous navigational improvements, including the various Welland Canals, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened for business in 1959. It was both an ecological and a diplomatic breakthrough.

The history of the seaway is one of tremendous Earth-moving high modernism and complicated international diplomacy. And Daniel Macfarlane’s new book, Negotiating a River: Canada, the US, and the Creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway, takes readers through the fascinating environmental and diplomatic history of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

On this episode of the podcast, we speak with Daniel Macfarlane about his new book on the history of the St. Lawrence seaway and power project.

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Daniel Macfarlane

Works Cited:

Music Credits:


Kheraj, Sean. “Episode 45: The St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project” Nature’s Past: Canadian Environmental History Podcast. 29 October 2014.

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Sean Kheraj is the director of the Network in Canadian History and Environment. He's an associate professor in the Department of History and associate dean of programs in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at York University. His research and teaching focuses on environmental and Canadian history. He is also the host and producer of Nature's Past, NiCHE's audio podcast series and he blogs at

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