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The Ghost Canal

Farmers and businessmen from all over the Newmarket district, angry at skyrocketing railroad freight rates, met in the Town Hall on Market Square to look for cheaper ways to get their products to market.

Their Member of Parliament, Sir William Mulock, convinced them a canal was the answer and so the Newmarket Canal was born.

Newmarket’s civic leaders went to Ottawa to lobby for a canal linking to Lake Simcoe and the Trent Waterway. With Mulock as its chief advocate in Cabinet, the canal was approved and construction started in 1906. It was almost complete in the summer of 1912 – three lift locks, three swing bridges and a turning basin – when the new government of Robert Borden cancelled the project.

Instead of having a downtown on a busy tourist waterway, all we are left with is a turning basin at the Tannery Centre filled in to become the parking lot and an almost completed but never used ghost canal with its locks and bridges slowly deteriorating and disappearing.

- Terry Carter