Ever heard about the Lost Villages of Ontario? Underneath the Saint Lawrence Seaway lay ten settlements submerged in a watery grave. The Lost Villages are nine villages and a populated island that were flooded when the Saint Lawrence Seaway was built in 1958. They are in the Canadian province of Ontario, in the former townships of Cornwall and Osnabruck (now South Stormont) near Cornwall.
One can find ancient lost cities submerged in the sea in the Mediterranean (like the lost city of Thonis in Egypt) as well as the ancient submerged Greek city of Pavlopetri (that one can snorkel). But while those cities succumbed to the waves by calamities of nature, the Lost Cities of Canada were deliberately inundated by man.
The Story Behind The Lost Villages Of Canada
The settlements were inundated by the construction of the Moses-Saunders Power Dam which was a part of the greater St. Lawrence Seaway system. While some parts of the American shoreline in New York were also flooded, no settlements on the American side were inundated.
The St. Lawrence Seaway is a major system of locks, channels, and canals in both the United States and Canada that link the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It stretches as far inland as Duluth in Minnesota at the western extent of the massive Lake Superior.
- Construction: Began In 1954 on The Moses-Saunders Power Dam
- Submerged: By The Creation of The Saint Lawrence Seaway
- Date: 8 a.m. on 1 July 1958 (When A Large Cofferdam Was Demolished And the Flooding Started
Fate Of The Residents And What Can Be Seen Underwater
Of course, it was known that the dam would flood these settlements, so before it did so, the affected families and businesses were moved to the new planned communities of Long Sault and Ingleside. Some of the residents felt like the true value of their properties was not fully compensated.
In total, around 6,500 people ended up displaced with 530 buildings moved and thousands of homes and schools destroyed.
- Displaced: Around 6,500 People Were Displaced
Today there is not that much to see of the old settlements, although in some places remnants of the sidewalks and building foundations can still be seen under the water. When the water level of the lake is low enough, some of them reemerge to the surface.
Divers can even follow the sidewalks and the roads of the abandoned submerged settlements.
The 10 Lost Villages Of Canada
- Crysler's Farm: The Monument Commemorating A Major Battle of 1812 Was Moved To Upper Canada Village
- Iroquois: A Town That Was Relocated A Mile To The North And Not Abandoned
- Morrisburg: Partially Submerged With Parts Moved To A Higher Site
- Aultsville: Inundated, First Settled By Disbanded Soldiers of The King's Royal Regiment of New York. Originally Called Charlesville
- Dickinson’s Landing: Inundated - Was A Typical Village of the Area
- Farran’s Point: Inundated - First Settled In 1811
- Maple Grove: Inundated - The Location Of Lock 20, Roberston Creek
- Mille Roches: Inundated - Means Thousand Rocks in French
- Moulinette: Inundated - Had 311 Inhabitants When The Dam Was Built
- Santa Cruz: Inundated - This Community Never Actually Achieved The Status of Village
- Sheek/Sheik Island: The Formerly Inhabited Island
- Wales: The Only Inland Village of the Lost Village, Also Settled By Soldiers Of The King's Royal Regiment of New York
- Woodlands: Inundated - The Only Trace Left Is The Site of St. Mathew's Church
Where To See The Relocated Buildings
The Lost Villages Museum In Ault Park:
Today many of the materials and even several historic buildings from the communities are now preserved in a museum in Ault Park near Long Sault. The Ten Lost Villages of Ontario is a museum dedicated to them in Ault Park in Ontario. The museum includes several salvaged buildings from the settlements.
- Location: Ault Park on Fran Laflamme Drive, 3km east of Long Sault, Ontario
The Lost Villages Museum hast 10 heritage buildings that were moved and restored to Ault Park from The Lost Villages and surrounding townships by the members of The Lost Villages Historical Society.
They have taken care to restore both their interiors and exteriors. The buildings have been assembled in a village-like setting.
As of the time of writing (March 2022), the museum is closed for the season - and they place to reopen in June 2022.
- Reopening: June 2022
Upper Canada Village:
More relocated buildings can be seen in Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg.
Also submerged was a major battle site of the War of 1812 called The Battle of Crysler's Farm. In this battle, the British and early Canadians of around 900 soldiers successfully defended the St. Lawrence region and defeated a much larger force of Americans attacking with around 8,000 soldiers.
With the flooding, the Canadians moved a monument commemorating their victory to Upper Canada Village.