The St. Lawrence Seaway extends 754 miles from the source in Lake Ontario to the wide mouth in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Historically it has been the pathway for invaders from the sea – French, English, Vikings, and the Sea Lamprey. As prominent as it is on the map – long and wide – our recent trip to New England was my first chance to see the mighty river in person and we diverted from a straight shot from Vermont to Niagara Falls to take in the majesty and the quiet serenity, to feel some of the history of the region, and just to do what we wanted to do.
Our first indication that we were on the edges of a giant waterway was the immense valley we encountered. No hills, mountains, or deep ravines were present – just a gradual dipping and a view of a valley that must extend thirty miles with a river somewhere in the far scattered tree line. This is snow country and the winds off the Great Lakes carry moisture which quickly falls as snow sometimes 3 or 4 feet at a time. That would be several months from now as the maples and oaks were just beginning to turn orange, red, and yellow with deep green still predominant.
Giant wind turbines seemed to grow in orchards miles on a side while little front yard signs along the way yelled “Stop the Turbines!” as residents seemed to choose aesthetics over climate control.
Amish villages and farms dotted the countryside with more signs advertising tomatoes for sale. Freshly laundered clothes hanging outside catching the ever present wind and the lack of automobiles was a dead give-a-way as to where the Amish lived.
Horse droppings and “Be Careful of Buggy” signs added to the knowledge that we were amongst the quiet, self-contained Amish sect of New England.
As our travels begin to parallel the Seaway we got our first glimpse of the St. Lawrence. At first, I was disappointed – perhaps I didn’t know what to expect. It was just a wide body of water with trees on the banks and boats jumping small whitecaps created by the wind. There were no large sailing vessels; no Indian canoes; no French flags – just endless water. The river was a mile, maybe more across, and in the distance — Canada. The same farms, trees, and small buildings decorated the shoreline in Ontario – altogether nothing spectacular.
We stopped for lunch at a New York river side park and up close we got to see and admire the clean, clear waterway. Ducks and geese splashed on the rocky edges and orange lichens covered the ice aged boulders dropped indiscriminately along the sloping bank.
Here it was – the St. Lawrence River – gateway to the North Atlantic! Downriver to the Northeast the French defended Quebec against the British and to the Southwest, just a few miles away, the Thousand Islands (actually over 1,800) decorated the entrance to Lake Ontario.
The longer we stood on that riparian shoreline, the more we were pulled into the twists and turns of history, different cultures, and thoughts of bearded explorers pushing slowly up river to yet unseen wonders of inland seas and mighty waterfalls.
Thanks for your visit today!