Harry MacKenzie, with the MacCulloch Engineering Company of Montreal, was the engineer in charge of the construction of the Canso Causeway and the Canso Canal. He is pictured on the shore below Porcupine Mountain quarry on May 31, 1952.

By: Yvonne Fox

How many of us do you think would be living here 65 years later had the Canso Causeway and Canal not been constructed?

Here at the Strait of Canso, the idea of a fixed link then was not a good thing as over 200 jobs connected to the railway and ferries would be lost.

On February 4, 1949, the Scotia II ferry was used to break the ice for the car ferry after ice appeared overnight.

No one should ever think that it was an easy task getting the Canso Causeway and Canal constructed.

By 1947, leadership came from many committed business, political and community men in Industrial Cape Breton as this is where the coal and steel industries were located.

The Scotia II train ferry is pictured trying to cross the ice-filled Strait of Canso on April 26, 1950.

The Associated Board of Trade took the lead initially lobbying for support from other business groups across the country, as well as the provincial and federal governments. Study groups were formed to help Cape Bretoners understand the need. The Canso Crossing Association was later formed which was made up of 71 members.

From 1947 up to 1951, articles and cartoons in provincial newspapers indicated that it was to be a bridge. Finally the engineers agreed that because of the size, the amount of ice and strength of the currents that filled the Strait of Canso every winter, as well as the depth of the water, it would be difficult to construct a bridge, and instead a causeway option was chosen.

Taken on April 17, 1954, this picture of the Acadia Fisheries plant in Mulgrave shows how much of a problem ice was in the Strait of Canso before the Canso Causeway was constructed.

In June 1952, work clearing the land began at Cape Porcupine.

This is the third in a series of columns from the Port Hastings Historical Society celebrating the 65th anniversary of the opening of the Canso Causeway, and marking the closure of the Mulgrave to Point Tupper ferry.

Photos courtesy the Port Hastings Historical Society
Taken in May, 1952, this picture captures the shoreline below the Porcupine Mountain quarry just prior to the start of construction on the Canso Causeway.