Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | February 16, 2017

St. Lawrence River Rapids.

scan0029Shooting the Rapids du Plat across from Morrisburg.

Descending the St. Lawrence rapids on a steamship from Brockville to Montreal  was a major tourist attraction from the 1890s to the late 1940s.

scan0030A 19th century stereoscope card taken by the Notman Studios showing a steamer descending the Long Sault Rapids.

A passenger on a descent of the Long Sault wrote that it was “a continuous rapid of 9 miles divided in the centre by an island…

The steamer, after fully entering the rapid, rushes along at the rate of something like 20 miles an hour, the steam is shut off, and she is carried along by the force of the current alone.  The surging waters present all appearance of the ocean in a storm, but unlike the ordinary pitching and tossing at sea, this going downhill by water produces a highly novel sensation…


Cedar Rapids

‘At first sight, this rapids has the appearance of the ordinary rapids, but once the steamer has entered it the turbulent waters and pitching about renders the passage very exciting…”


Split Rock

“So called from its enormous boulders at the entrance.  A person unacquainted with the navigation of these rapids will almost involuntarily hold his breath until this ledge, which is distinctly seen from the deck of the steamer is passed.  At one time the vessel seems to be running directly upon it, and you almost feel certain that she will strike, but a skilful hand is at the helm, and in an instant more it is passed in safety…”


The complete trip from Brockville to Montreal is described and supplemented by numerous historic photographs in the book THE LIVING RIVER – secrets of the St. Lawrence, published by Quarry Press, and now available at the Cornwall Community Museum and from Quarry Press for $30.

To order by mail or for any inquiries email



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