The Welland Canal provides a link in the St. Lawrence transportation system that bypasses Niagara Falls. It was first developed by William Hamilton Merritt and construction began in 1824. Despite many difficulties, Merritt persevered and the canal was fully completed in 1834. It ran south from Port Dalhousie along Twelve Mile Creek, through St. Catharines, and out towards Lake Erie
As ships became larger and wooden locks deteriorated, the need for a new canal became apparent. Construction of a second canal began in 1841 and was completed by 1845. In 1887, a third Welland Canal was completed which operated until 1932, when a fourth canal was completed. This canal remains in operation today.
The remnants of the previous canals were largely forgotten. Many citizens felt that this part of Niagara's history should be remembered, preserved, and, if possible, redeveloped. The following groups represent this movement to preserve the Welland Canals.