Lachine Canal, QC - Cole M.

My Watermark is the Lachine Canal in Montreal, QC.

Though Canadiens only account for a mere 0.5 percent of the world’s population, we have a vast and valuable resource that, over the last decades, has become increasingly taken for granted. Canada has jurisdiction over 20 percent of the global supply of fresh water. Thus, as Canadians, we have a distinguished responsibility to maintain what is truly an invaluable resource.

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to own a chalet near the Lachine Canal. As a result, my family and I would spend countless hours loathing in the sun or splash in the water; it was a utopia where our weekends and summers would fly by. It was the Canal’s allure, immensity, and history that culminated in creating these enduring memories. The Lachine Canal passes through the southwestern part of the Island of Montreal and feeds into the Lake Saint-Louis. Its 13-kilometre-long canal, which has a current depth of 5.5 meters, consists of five basins operated by a system of locks. The canal, which gets its name from the French word for China (la Chine), was built by European explorers who sought to find a new route from New France to the Western Sea. From youth to adolescent, the time spent at the Lachine Canal is still unforgettable and fulfilling.

Albeit I have a myriad of recollections from my paradise, there is but one that sits above the rest. Every Saturday morning of the early summer, my family and I would awake at 8:30 a.m., hop on our bikes and set out for the day. My mother led the way, cruising aimlessly, only stopping for the noisy outcries of my younger brother who was perpetually hungry. My sister, perhaps ambitious ahead of her years, followed close behind though could never maintain the restless pace. Next, were my dad and younger brother on a tandem bicycle; my brother was too short to reach the pedals but was incessant that he was incapable of sitting in the bike seat. I was always last, not because I was incapable of going fast but because I was fascinated and equally distracted by the idyllic surroundings. To my left was the Lachine Canal. I remember mesmerizing about the sun’s glare reflecting off the still Canal’s surface and waiting until I submerged my body in the cold but ultimately refreshing water — and I never had to wait long. After our laborious bike rides, we would hike down to, what seemed to me, an endless body of water. The Canal accepted me as I sprinted into its open arms and soaked in its drink— a feeling of pure euphoria; however, what I hoped would be a continued feeling, quickly ceased. Each successive year, I returned with my family and enjoyed the same activities; but, to my dismay, we returned one year and found a sign dictating whether or not it was safe to swim.

The waterway attracted a number of industries to its banks. Over the years, industrial expansion in this area has culminated and become the main source of contamination of the Lachine Canal. Today, due to the continuous disposal of industrial waste in the Canal, harmful substances dominate the landscape. This has caused, amongst other problems, widespread water pollution. Heavy metals, radioactive waste, chemicals and organic sludge are pouring into the water, severely impacting the viability. In turn, habitats are being destroyed and animals are forced to migrate or suffer the effects of increased toxicity. One such species enduring these effects is the Yellow Perch, whose population has gradually decreased over the last decade in the Lake Saint-Louis region as a byproduct of increased industrial waste. Moreover, the increased water pollution may have an indirect impact on humans. Nearby farmers are using this water for irrigation purposes; if our water sources have high concentrations of industrial waste, our health will be jeopardized.

Thus, resultant from the severity of the issue, it is important that humans take responsibility for our wrongdoings and begin to take considerable steps to rehabilitate the Lachine Canal and the world around us.

Lachine Canal, QC
Matthew Chisholm
Cole M.