St. Andrews Lock and Dam

Learn about the St. Andrews Lock and Dam.

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About the lock and dam

Red River Basin

A drainage basin, or watershed, is an area of land that drains waterways and precipitation to a common outlet. The drainage basin that affects the Red River covers an area of 260,000 square kilometres. The basin extends into the United States and even to the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border. The Red River flows north from the USA to Lake Winnipeg.

During the summer navigational season, the St. Andrews Lock and Dam is used to manage water levels on the portion of the Red River between the dam and the upstream James Avenue pumping station in Winnipeg.

About the dam and bridge

The dam is a “Caméré”-style dam. It uses moveable curtains that we raise or lower to control water flow. The curtains are made up of 50 thin, narrow slats of Douglas fir wood hinged together. There are 89 movable curtains in the dam. Each curtain is 4 metres long and 2.1 metres wide.

French engineer, M. Caméré, invented this type of dam. It was popular in Western Europe in the late 19th century.

The curtains are replaced roughly every 3 years. Workers need to replace the curtains by hand, making it labour intensive.

Here are some facts about the dam and bridge:

The maximum width on the roadway is 3.7 metres for 2-way traffic and the maximum vehicle height is 5.1 metres.

National Historic Civil Engineering Site

In 1990, the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering designated the St. Andrews Caméré Curtain Bridge Dam a National Historic Civil Engineering Site.

The engineering society recognized it because it is perhaps the only surviving moveable dam of its kind in the world. A monument was installed to observe the distinction.

About the lock

The lock is the only one on the Prairies. It measures 11 metres deep, 62 metres long and 13.7 metres wide. At both ends of the lock is a set of 2 wooden gates, made of Douglas fir; each set more than 200 tonnes when dry.

The lock is drained and filled by gravity, a process that takes about 20 minutes.

Each season, hundreds of boats and thousands of passengers go through the lock, depending on the Red River’s flow conditions. It takes a boat or other watercraft about 20 minutes to pass through the St. Andrews lock. Boats are raised or lowered approximately 4.3 metres when they pass through the lock. During the navigation season, the lock is primarily used by tour boat operators and recreational boaters.

Description of the facility

The St. Andrews Lock and Dam is in Lockport, Manitoba. It’s 27 kilometres north of Winnipeg along the Red River.

It’s a low-flow water control facility operated by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to improve the navigability on the Red River through to Lake Winnipeg. The facility consists of:

The dam uses 89 moveable wooden curtains that are lowered or raised to control the flow of the water.

Provincial highway 44 crosses over the lock and dam.

History of the lock and dam

Former Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier officially opened the facility in 1910.

The lock and dam was built in the early 20th century so boats could navigate from Lake Winnipeg to the City of Winnipeg. It allows this by flooding the Lister Rapids during the summer navigation season.

Most parts of the dam and lock are original from when it was built.

H.E. Vautelet, an engineer from Montréal, designed the St. Andrews Lock and Dam. It’s the largest structure of its kind in the world.

The year 2010 marked the 100th anniversary of the St. Andrews Lock and Dam.

The St. Andrews Lock and Dam has enabled significant economic and social development for many local communities. Tourism and recreation play a major role in the local economy and the area has earned a reputation for being one of the best fishing areas in North America.

The dam continues to be at the hub of activity for both residents and area businesses. More than 100 years after its official opening, the dam remains a fully operational structure that continues to play an important role in supporting navigation on the Red River.

St. Andrews Lock and Dam
St. Andrews Lock and Dam
St. Andrews Lock and Dam aerial view
An aerial view of the St. Andrews Lock and Dam

Operation of the lock

The lock opens to boaters and vessels in May and closes on October 15. It operates 16 hours a day, 7 days a week.

PSPC chooses the date the locks will open based on the conditions of the river.

Hours of operation

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