Se­away flood­ing was not worth it: Speaker

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - NEWS - CAM KENNEDY

LONG SAULT — The coun­cil cham­ber at the South Stor­mont Town­ship Hall was packed Wednes­day evening with at­ten­dees ea­ger to get an in-depth his­tory les­son on the St. Lawrence Se­away and Power pro­ject.

Daniel Macfar­lane, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at Western Michi­gan Uni­ver­sity, de­liv­ered a pre­sen­ta­tion on the pro­ject that af­fected the lives of many when the Lost Vil­lages and sur­round­ing ar­eas were wiped out af­ter planned flood­ing to build the Moses Saun­ders Power Dam. The pre­sen­ta­tion was part of the Science and Na­ture on Tour by the St. Lawrence River In­sti­tute.

Though many in the area are fa­mil­iar with the events that took place, Macfar­lane pro­vided in­for­ma­tion in re­gards to the more po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic fac­tors that went into the pro­ject.

Macfar­lane also noted how both Canada and the United States dealt with the move­ment of the peo­ple who would be af­fected by the floods.

“In Canada, these new towns were go­ing to be built (In­gle­side and Long Sault) and peo­ple would have the op­por­tu­nity to live in these com­mu­ni­ties that had all of the mod­ern ameni­ties,” he said. “Whereas in the United States, those who would have to move were ba­si­cally just given a cou­ple thou­sand dol­lars and told to find some­where to go on their own.”

While there were ben­e­fits to mov­ing lo­ca­tions of peo­ple’s homes, it wasn’t wel­comed.

“It was a very trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence for some. The older gen­er­a­tion didn’t like to talk about the se­away pro­ject un­til decades af­ter it took place with the cre­ation of the Lost Vil­lages His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety,” he said. “The younger gen­er­a­tion had an eas­ier time ad­just­ing, be­cause of the mod­ern ameni­ties that came in the new towns. The older folks had to leave the towns and houses that they spent their whole lives in.”

Macfar­lane also dove into the fact the pro­ject didn’t de­liver all it was promised to be. The flood­ing and cre­ation of the se­away was sup­posed to be a huge im­pact for the econ­omy, but it failed to be just that. The new cre­ation of the se­away was pre­dicted to turn the Corn­wall, Long Sault, In­gle­side and Iroquois ar­eas into thriv­ing eco­nomic ar­eas as boats would pass through ev­ery day.

When look­ing back on the pro­ject through his re­search, Macfar­lane de­ter­mined it to be a fail­ure as a whole.

“The flood­ing of these vil­lages was not worth the eco­nomic values that ended up be­ing gen­er­ated,” he said. “En­vi­ron­men­tally, the con­struc­tion of the dam had a huge neg­a­tive im­pact. It left the river to be very heav­ily pol­luted and wildlife was af­fected.”

When asked about his in­ter­est in the se­away pro­ject, Macfar­lane said it stemmed from his ed­u­ca­tional back­ground.

“I stud­ied Cana­dian and Amer­i­can re­la­tions along with en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues,” he said. “If you put the two to­gether, you get what the Se­away pro­ject was. Even to­day, a lot of is­sues be­tween Canada and Amer­ica are around tar sands, oil, green­house gases and other en­vi­ron­men­tal top­ics.”

CAM KENNEDY/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Daniel Macfar­lane de­liv­ers his pre­sen­ta­tion on the St. Lawrence Se­away pro­ject to a packed room at South Stor­mont Town­ship Hall on Wednes­day.

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