Seaway's role in shaping the Great Lakes

st lawrence ports .jpg

Entering into the second fold of my time with the O'Brien Fellowship we are moving into a new phase of Dan Egan's investigation. This semester the focus is shifting from the southern portion of the Great Lakes to the northern entrance, the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The priority until now has been, what must be done to stop Asian carp coming in from Chicago? And with the current introduction of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study the next step questions how we can stop other invasive species? Two alternatives introduced by the GLMRIS report which propose complete, physical separation of the basin's could also be the solution to closing the metaphorical "front door."

Alternatives five and six, while more expensive, would reduce the amount of commercial navigation thereby reducing the amount of ballast water being brought into the Great Lakes. The downfall would be a sharp decrease in international trade routes. International relations and defense between Canada and the United Sates have always been hot topics with the Seaway. 

The St. Lawrence River opened 1959 creating a path to Lake Ontario and the Great Lake basin. It is the same path discovered by French explorer Jacques Cartier in his search for the Northwest passage in 1534. When discussions between Canada and the United States began over the Seaway's construction viewpoints were scattered concerning costs and foreign relations.

In 1953 there were several documents of support. One of which, from Wisconsin Senator Alexander Wiley, urged former President Dwight D. Eisenhower to consider the possibilities in advancement if the United States were to work with Canadian forces to establish a connection to the Atlantic. Another letter written in February 1953 from Secretary of Defense Charles Wilson to White House Chief of Staff Sherman Adams clearly states, "The Department of Defense has consistently supported the Saint Lawrence Seaway project as important to national defense."

Wiley along with Michigan Congressman George Dondero, the two political figures who were major contributors to the legislation favoring the St. Lawrence Seaway , had a section of the passage named after their efforts near the New York, Ontario boarder. The 10-mile section now known as the Wiley-Dondero Canal was dedicated in 1958 shortly before the Seaway's opening.