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Part of the Montgomery Canal undergoing restoration

Waterway restoration is the activity of restoring a canal or river, including special features such as warehouse buildings, locks, boat lifts, and boats. In the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, the focus of waterway restoration is on improving navigability, while in Australia the term may also include improvements to water quality. (For water quality improvement activity in the US and UK see stream restoration.)


Waterway restoration in CanadaEdit

Shubenacadie CanalEdit

The Shubenacadie Canal Commission was formed in 1986 to oversee the future of this waterway. Locks three and five have been restored, water levels in the connecting lakes have been stabilized and a visitor center opened. The ten year business plan [1] for 2007-2016 aims to save four more locks and rebuild four water control structures to make the route open for small boats from Lake Banook to the village of Shubenacadie.

Soulanges CanalEdit

The Soulanges Canal closed in 1958. Today there are plans to reopen the canal to pleasure boats. The mission of the Régie intermunicipale du canal de Soulanges is to manage the development of a tourism development as part of the reopening of the canal. [2]

Waterway restoration in FinlandEdit

Suvorov military canalsEdit

Suvorov military canals (Suvorov canals) is a series of four open canals on Saimaa lake in Finland. Apart from the Kutvele canal, the other three canals spent 200 years almost untouched from early 19th century until 2003, when Finnish National Board of Antiquities began restoration works on them. Now they have been turned into tourist attractions.

Tar canalsEdit

The tar canals in Kajaani were canals and locks built to pass the Koivukoski and Ämmäkoski rapids. First used in 1846, the locks were vital in the transportation of wood pine tar to Oulu. The worn down canals were closed in 1915. Refurbished Ämmäkoski lock was re-opened in 1984, but the Koivukoski canal has been totally dismantled and the site now houses a hydroelectric power plant. The refurbished canal is not used for transport, but in summertime, tar boat shows are organised for tourists.[1][2]

Waterway restoration in the United KingdomEdit

Excavation work at Salwarpe on the Droitwich Canal during 1978 Waterway Recovery Group summer work camp.

Due to competition from the railways and the narrow design of most UK canals (which prevented the carriage of economically sized bulk loads), large parts of the UK's canal system were abandoned in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The rise of the leisure industry in the 1950s meant that the complete abandonment of the remaining canals was avoided.

The increasing use of canals for leisure purposes led some people to consider restoring some of those that had been abandoned. At first, progress was slow due to the lack of funding, with most of the work having to be done manually by volunteers.

As the leisure industry grew, the economic benefits of having a canal became more apparent and some state funding started to appear. At the same time public interest increased the size of various volunteer groups.

At the present time, canal restoration in the UK is carried out by a mixture of volunteers and professionals working on a large variety of projects.

Waterways under restorationEdit

A lock on the Droitwich Canal undergoing restoration

Waterway restoration groups in the United KingdomEdit

Gough's Orchard lock on the Thames & Severn Canal undergoing restoration by Waterway Recovery Group

Completed restoration schemesEdit

Waterways are listed in chronological order of re-opening. Most have been completely re-opened, but some (such as the Grand Western Canal and Basingstoke Canal) are only partially complete but have no current plans for work on the rest of the line.

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Squires, Roger W (1983). The New Navvies. A History of the modern waterways restoration movement. Chichester: Phillimore & Co. ISBN 0-85033-364-4.


  1. ^ City of Kajaani. "Tervakanava",, (in Finnish), Retrieved on 20 March 2014.
  2. ^ Riitta Kankkunen. "The Tar canals Koivukoski and Ämmakoski", The Canals in Finland, Retrieved on 20 March 2014.

External linksEdit