On 21 July 1814, when the Americans were trying to gain control of Lake Huron during the WAR OF 1812, they burned much of Sault Ste Marie including the trading post and wood lock of the North West Co. A second lock was opened in 1895 and at the time was the world's longest. Closed between 1987 and 1998 it is now only open for recreational traffic. It was designated a national historic site in 1987. Lake and ocean ships, with cargoes of grain and iron ore, bypass the rapids through 4 American locks (1855). Together the 5 locks regularly handle more traffic than any comparable system in the world.
Industrial development was initiated by American-born businessman Francis CLERGUE, who built an electric-power plant and pulp mill, the Algoma Steel Company (1900) and the ALGOMA CENTRAL RAILWAY (1899-1914), which runs to iron ore reserves nearby. Clergue went into bankruptcy and the Ontario government was forced to step in and rescue some of the businesses.
Algoma Steel (now ESSAR STEEL ALGOMA) is still the major economic force in the area. At its peak, Algoma Steel employed some 9000 workers, but with restructuring and changes in technology and economic patterns its payroll is now closer to 3000. The forests of the Algoma region also support pulp and paper and wood-processing companies in the city. The Sault is the home of the Great Lakes Forestry Centre, one of 6 Canadian Forest Service centres across Canada, involved in research and development as well as policy making.
Since 1924, the aviation services of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (first known as the Ontario Provincial Air Service) have been centred here. In 1957, the air service successfully developed aerial water bombing for fighting FOREST FIRES. Today the service maintains a large fleet of planes for fighting forest fires.
In its position as a focal point for east-west transportation routes aided by the opening of the International Bridge (31 October 1962), Sault Ste Marie supports numerous companies offering trucking services and has become an important regional centre for health, education and government services. The important role of transportation in the development of the city has been recognized in the establishment of a Marine Heritage Centre and the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre. Attempts are being made to diversify the city's economy by introducing and encouraging development in such areas as information technology, renewable energy and tourism.
The Sault Star has been the city's daily newspaper since 1912. Post-secondary education is provided by the Sault College of Applied Arts and Technology and ALGOMA UNIVERSITY. The Art Gallery of Algoma is located in the city and the Sault Ste Marie Museum is located in the old post office (opened in 1906) with its impressive clock tower. Winter tourism and recreation activities include the Bon Soo Carnival, the junior hockey games of the Soo Greyhounds and downhill skiing at the Searchmont Ski Resort. Summer activities include boat tours of the locks and the Algoma Central Railway wilderness tours to Agawa Canyon. Parks and 2 full-service marinas, one named after Roberta BONDAR, the first Canadian woman in space and a city native, have been developed to encourage boaters to visit the Sault.
Author DAVID D. KEMP
Links to Other Sites
Essar Steel Algoma Inc.
The website for Essar Steel Algoma Inc., a subsidiary of Essar Steel Holdings Ltd. The company's operations are based in Sault Ste. Marie with sales offices in Calgary and Burlington, Ontario.
Tourism Sault Ste Marie
Check out the latest news about tourism and economic development programs in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.
Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre
Aviation enthusiasts will want to touch down at this website for the award-winning Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Features photos and extensive documentation about float planes and other aircraft. Also covers forest fire suppression technology.
Check out the latest news about academic programs and events at Algoma University, located in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.
Sault Ste Marie Community History
An extensive history of the Sault Ste Marie region. From Library and Archives Canada.
An online travel guide covering popular destinations and recreational opportunities in Northern Ontario.
Sault Ste Marie Canal National Historic Site of Canada
A fascinating look at the many Canadian engineering innovations built into the original canal that provided safe passage between Lake Huron and Lake Superior. From Parks Canada.
Sault Ste Marie
The official website for the City of Sault Ste Marie. Check out the Algoma Fall Festival, Art Gallery of Algoma, Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, and other local cultural links.
A Brief History of Michigan
See a brief history of the State of Michigan. From the Michigan Legislature website.
Prohibition and the Smuggling of Intoxicating Liquors between the Two Saults
An article about the history of the prohibition movement in Canada, the Ontario Temperance Act, liquor smuggling activities in the Sault Ste. Marie region, and related issues. From the website for the Canadian Nautical Research Society. A PDF file.
The website for "Algoma 1812." Dedicated to overseeing the Algoma region's Bi-Centennial Commemoration of the War of 1812. Check out the chronology of historical events related to the War of 1812.
Destiny Sault Ste Marie
The website for Destiny Sault Ste Marie, an organization that fosters regional economic diversification. Check out their online publications for details of local public and private sector strategic initiatives.
A portal that provides essential information about Sault Ste Marie for new Canadians residing in this area.
Ontario: Aviation Services
Click on the links on the right side of the page to access illustrated histories of bush flying and the use of waterbombers in the province of Ontario.
MDOT: International Bridge
Crossing information and alerts for drivers travelling over the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge. Scroll down the page for a brief history of this structure. From the Michigan Department of Transportation.
The website for Jane’s Walk, a network of free walking tours that explore the quality and livability of local neighbourhoods based on ideas espoused by Jane Jacobs. Click on "The Community" to access the latest news and photos on their blog and more. Also, check out "Find Your Walk" for maps and descriptions of local walks throughout the country.