St. Peter’s Canal 150th anniversary celebrations to be launched Saturday

ST. PETER’S: The St. Peter’s Canal National Historic Site is marking its 150th anniversary in 2019 and Parks Canada is celebrating all season long in the communities of St. Peter’s and Potlotek.

Built on an isthmus, the 800-metre St. Peter’s Canal National Historic Site joins the Atlantic Ocean to the sparkling Bras d’Or Lake, meandering along Battery Provincial Park, which is popular for boating, fishing, and picnicking.

Locals and visitors to Cape Breton Island are invited to the season launch event this Saturday at 1 p.m. at the St. Peter’s Canal National Historic Site. Join in on  a tour of the canal and learn more about the history of the national historic site by taking part in a fascinating history talk. In case of inclement weather, the event will take place at the Bras d’Or Lakes Inn.

Parks Canada will be unveiling the special commemorative boating certificate. Those travelling by water can pick up the certificate for passing through the lock during the 150th anniversary.

 “The site of St. Peter’s Canal is a significant part of the Unama’ki’s history as our ancestors used this site as a portage route for many years,”Potlotek Chief Wilbert Marshall remarked. “We’re pleased to be a part of this year’s anniversary as we celebrate the history and contributions of Indigenous Peoples at St. Peter’s Canal.”

The St. Peter’s Canal is the pride of the village of St. Peter’s, whose history can be traced back to a traditional Mi’kmaw portage route and a 17th-century trading post and haulover road built by French merchant, Nicolas Denys. With a steadily increasing volume of shipping, a canal replaced the haulover road in 1869. Its remarkable 15-year construction and evolution as a contemporary waterway opened Cape Breton Island up to development.       

Designated a national historic site in 1929, the St. Peter’s Canal National Historic Site welcomes approximately 12,000 people per year. Thousands of vehicles cross the bridge each month and it swings open for more than a thousand boats each year.

“The Government of Canada is pleased that Parks Canada’s places such as St. Peter’s Canal National Historic Site form important cornerstones for Canada’s local, regional, and national tourism industry,” Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner said. “This year marks a very special year for the St. Peter’s Canal as this national treasure celebrates 150 years of history. I encourage everyone to visit during this anniversary year and spend some time in beautiful Richmond County.”

Parks Canada collaborated with many partners to make the 150th anniversary celebrations a success including the St. Peter’s Economic Development Organization, the St. Peter’s Village Commission, Village on the Canal Association, the St. Peter’s Marina, the St. Peter’s Community Club – Nicolas Denys Museum, and the communities of St. Peter’s and Potlotek.

“The St. Peter’s Canal plays an important role in growing the economy and increasing tourism in Richmond County,” said Richmond Warden Brian Marchand. “We’re proud to partner with Parks Canada and surrounding communities to celebrate this special anniversary all summer long.”

In addition to last Saturday’s launch event at the St. Peter’s Canal National Historic Site, other events planned throughout the season include: July 2–9 Seaside Lobsterfest; June 30–July 7 KitchenFest; July 25–29 St. Anne’s Mission in Potlotek; July 29–August 4 Nicolas Denys Days; August 4 Swim the Canal; August 10 150th Anniversary Celebrations at the St. Peter’s Canal National Historic Site; September 12–15 St. Peter’s Pirate Days; and October 11–19 Celtic Colours International Festival.

For more information about these events and St. Peters Canal National Historic Site, visit: pc.gc.ca/spc150.