Government of Canada celebrates opening of new Visitor Centre and Exhibit Area at Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site
From: Parks Canada
June 24, 2022
Parks Canada is responsible for protecting nationally significant examples of natural and cultural heritage and sharing the stories of these treasured places, including the histories, cultures, and contributions of Indigenous peoples. As cornerstones of Canada’s tourism industry, Parks Canada administered places are committed to providing visitors with high-quality and meaningful visitor experiences and supporting tourism in communities across the country.
Today, Terry Sheehan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and Member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie, on behalf of the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, formally announced the opening of a new, accessible Visitor Centre and interpretive exhibit at Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site. The $4 million project, funded through the Federal Infrastructure Investment Program, features the new visitor offering inside the restored Blacksmith’s Shop and Stores Building. A community celebration was held by Parks Canada and partners, Batchewana First Nation and Métis Nation of Ontario, to mark the occasion.
The new Visitor Centre and exhibit space, which officially opened to visitors on June 6, 2022, features interpretive elements that outline the impact that the construction of the canal had on the First Nation and Métis Nation communities. These include interactive exhibits, interpretive panels, historic photographs, impressive artifacts, and a hand-built birch bark canoe on loan from Batchewana First Nation. A new interactive touch screen map will support visitors in planning their visit at the canal, providing them with information on various points of interest, walking the trails, or guiding themselves to visit one of the many historic structures on site. The technical innovations of the canal are demonstrated through a newly designed interactive lock model.
Parks Canada worked closely with Batchewana First Nation, Métis Nation of Ontario, and other local groups to ensure the materials developed for the exhibit reflect the diverse histories and experiences of the people of Sault Ste. Marie and Northern Ontario. Archival photography work was supported by the Sault Ste. Marie Library and the Sault Ste. Marie Museum, with the museum assisting with exhibit installation. Across the country, Parks Canada is honoured to work in collaboration with Indigenous peoples to develop interpretive materials and activities at national historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas with the goal of fostering a better understanding of Indigenous peoples’ perspectives, cultures and traditions.
Through infrastructure investments, the Government of Canada is protecting and conserving national treasures, while supporting local economies and contributing to growth in the tourism sector. National historic sites reflect the rich and varied heritage of Canada and provide an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about our diverse history.
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“Our Government is committed to investing in the conservation of Canada’s built heritage and supporting local economies and growth in the tourism sector. The federal investment in restoring these heritage buildings and creation of a new Visitor Centre and exhibit area is an exciting addition to the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site that will benefit the region’s tourism offer. The collaboration with Batchewana First Nation and Métis Nation of Ontario is part of our government’s ongoing efforts towards reconciliation. This interactive, signature exhibit will foster a better understanding of Indigenous peoples’ perspectives, cultures and traditions, ensuring a meaningful visitor experience for years to come.”
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and Member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie
- The Sault Ste. Marie Canal (SSMC) was the longest and first electrically operated lock in the world when it opened in 1895. It was the last link in a 3500 km all-Canadian waterway stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the western tip of Lake Superior. It was designated a national historic site in 1987.
- The Government of Canada is investing over $14 million to rejuvenate the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site, as part of the largest federal infrastructure plan in the history of Parks Canada.
- The Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site is undertaking a large revitalization project of its Historic Core. This area refers to a cluster of heritage buildings made up of the Carpentry Shop, Stores Building and Blacksmith’s Shop, as well as the Powerhouse and surrounding landscape. These changes represent significant improvements to the site’s visitor experience offer.
- The establishment of an admission for the new exhibit space will allow the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site to continue to invest in visitor experience programs and elements. Parks Canada strives to ensure the enjoyment of national heritage places is affordable for all. Visitor fees never exceed the costs of service delivery and these revenues are reinvested into operations, visitor services, programs, facilities, and conservation.
- Parks Canada welcomes approximately 100,000 land-based and 55,000 water-based visitors to the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site each year. Parks Canada asks visitors to continue to respect public health guidelines while visiting our facilities. Visit our website for the most up-to-date information.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Parks Canada Agency
A/Public Relations and Communications Officer
Parks Canada, Northern Ontario Field Unit