On June 26, 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway was officially opened. The St. Lawrence Seaway is an extensive system of canals and locks to help vessels pass through the difficult parts of the water of the Saint Lawrence River. When the St. Lawrence Seaway was done, it finally permitted ocean-going vessels to pass from the Atlantic Ocean to the North American Great Lakes, and then onto Lake Superior. This was a project between the United States and Canada. It took five years of construction and cost the United States 470 million dollars and the Canadian government 336 million dollars for the system of canals and locks. The St. Lawrence Seaway was named after the Saint Lawrence River.
The Saint Lawrence River is an international waterway that flows from Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The Saint Lawrence River is the largest semi-enclosed body of water with many rivers flowing through it. The river is very wide in some parts that varies from 1 – 2 ½ miles wide and some parts are narrow especially near Cape Diamond which is only .3 miles wide. The river runs about 3,900 miles from Lake Ontario between Kingston through Ontario on the north bank, and then through Wolfe Island, Cape Vincent, New York, and then it flows by Gananoque, Brockville, Ogdensburg, Massena, Cornwall, Montreal, Trois-Riviéres, and Qubec City and then into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The Saint Lawrence River has very fast flowing waters and is a host to many large commercial vessels.
On this day 50 years ago, many people were excited and celebrated as they watched the opening ceremonies of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Queen Elizabeth and former President Dwight D. Eisenhower were in a precession together in an open car waving to fans driving towards the water to board the Royal Yacht Britannia at St. Lambert in Ontario. When they arrived, they walked towards the Royal Yacht Britannia on a red carpet. They walked together on the brow and onto the Royal Yacht Britannia where they stood together and waived to the crowd for this formal ceremony of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway on June 26, 1959. The ceremony was just a short cruise through the ceremonial gates to formally open the Seaway. White they waived to the crowd, there was a 21-gun salute for former President Eisenhower. Queen Elizabeth and former President Dwight Eisenhower continued to wave to the crowd aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia waited for the Royal Yacht Britannia to move towards the ceremonial gate.
The sailors took the brow to shore and the veterans that lined the canal shouted three cheers for Queen Elizabeth and former President Dwight Eisenhower. Then there was another three cheers shouting “Ike” especially for former President Eisenhower. Queen Elizabeth and former President Eisenhower started walking towards the Queen’s Bridge. The Royal Yacht Britannia starts to move for the short few hundred yards through the ceremonial gate. When they reached the gate the rockets fire, the balloons go up and the church bell rings. This was a great day to witness Queen Elizabeth and former President Eisenhower come together and dedicate the St. Lawrence Seaway in the formal opening ceremonies, June 26, 1959.
Watch the broadcast in black and white that people watched on June 26, 1959