Lois McClure, Titan the horse, and the Chambly Canal
Just to describe and have a better understanding of the feeling that I went through that day, here is a little resume of what my coworkers and I do on a regular basis everyday to sensitize the visitors about the historic Chambly Canal.
Towing along the Chambly Canal by horse. Photo by Kerry Batdorf.
We are interpreters at the same time that we are Lock or Bridge Masters; we are the transmitters of information to the population of today and tomorrow; we remind them about the importance of preserving the trace of our ancestors, tell them about how they worked and lived. As an employee, I have the chance of experimenting everyday through our actions of operating the canal, and each time we turn any mechanism, we are making part of the history. Questions and curiosity from the public is our way of communicating the importance of preserving our infrastructures and remains. Chambly Canal is our pride, to the population and to the workers of Parks Canada. I am proud of our canal because it remains almost as it was back in 1843. Those locks have seen lots of merchandise going by, from north to south and vise-versa, barges looking just like the Lois McClure
, filled up to the top. Horses were pulling those barges along the canal; they needed 3 horses back then to pulled one barge, it took the barge an average of 12 hours to do the 12 miles path. The canal was built for commerce. Vermont and producers from here put pressure on the government of the time to get this canal in place. We needed the canal to bypass four sets of rapids, an 80 foot elevation difference between Lake Champlain and the Chambly Basin.
On the morning of August 4th 2008, the crew of the Lois McClure
gave me a chance to live an incredible journey - a tow along the canal with a horse! You could feel the vibrations of excitement going around the crew and the people present that day and almost touch the emotions in the air, the passion was there. The setup was perfect; the entire crew and I were costumed for the occasion, and it was a pretty weird feeling. . . Hum. . . Incredible I would say . . . I felt like I was swept back in time, but that was nothing compared to what was coming. Everyone on board and on the tow path were working together to make this experience special for everyone. People were waiting to see on both sides of the canal, with smiles on their faces imagining the scenario in their heads of what was going to happen. On the deck of the boat, we women were standing and looking at everything getting into place; the men on board and the captain were looking to make sure everything was in order, that the lines were ok. We were waiting for the horse Titan to arrive that would be pulling the Lois McClure
through a part of the Chambly Canal. The plan was to go from the cement wharf upstream of lock # 1-2-3 all the way to lock #4. The Churchill
towboat and the zodiac had gone into lock # 4 before the Lois McClure
, and were waiting for us in lock # 5.