VILLAGE HAS WILL, LACKS MEANS TO SAVE HISTORIC CANAL
Overwhelmed by the high costs of restoration and maintenance, the small Village of Grenville, Québec, is pleading for a rapid intervention that would ensure the survival of its heritage canal. Currently suffering from an advanced state of dilapidation, the canal has great tourism potential but is severely under funded.
Why it matters:
Located along the Ottawa River between Montréal and Ottawa, the Grenville Canal is an example of the channelling efforts of the British Army in reaction to the Anglo-American War of 1812. It was constructed by the Royal Staff Corps as part of a transportation network that included canals along the river in Carillon and Chute-à-Blondeau. In times of war, this waterway was to serve as a supply route towards Kingston and the Great Lakes. Using hundreds of Irish and French Canadians workers, the construction was completed in 1833—making it one of the oldest testaments to military canal building in Canada.
Why it’s endangered:
Owned by the federal government for more than 150 years, the canal was transferred to the provincial government in 1988 and downloaded to the municipality two years later. The Village of Grenville, with a population of 1,400, has been unable to absorb the financial burden of its conservation. The cost of $25,000 for annual maintenance and the estimated $10 million required to save the canal, are simply too great.
Although the canal’s construction was federally recognized in 1929 as a National Historic Event, this 10-km-long historic canal is suffering from years of neglect and remains unprotected. In 2008, the village installed a temporary fence to secure the surrounding area. The retaining walls have begun to collapse, threatening the canal’s structure, shoreline and neighbouring dwellings.
Where things stand:
In May, 2009 the municipality organized a day-long event to study the possible preservation of the canal. The Village of Grenville, along with the MRC d’Argenteuil and Héritage Montréal, joined forces to bring together local citizens, heritage professionals and political figures in order to review the canal’s history, propose a preliminary rehabilitation plan and review sources of funding. The findings of the review concluded that urgent action is needed. A declaration endorsing the preservation project included a statement asking the federal government to assume the costs of restoring and stabilizing the site. Without immediate action this historic site will be lost forever.
Location: Grenville, Quebec
Top 10 Endangered Places List: 2009