Great Lakes Essential Resources: Economy & Shipping
The Great Lakes have been essential trading routes for centuries, connecting the inland of the United States and Canada to the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence Seaway. Today, they remain vital to the present economy of the surrounding region and to the quality of life of its residents, providing drinking water for more than 33 million people in Canada and the United States, supplying hydroelectric power, supporting industries, providing waterborne transportation, and offering a variety of recreational opportunities.
Please note that while tourism is large part of Great Lakes economy, modern tourism resources for trip planning purposes are not within the current scope of this guide.
Present Day Economy in the Great Lakes
Canals and the Great Lakes Economy
Soo Locks (Sault Sainte Marie Canals)
Sault Sainte Marie Canal and lock link Lakes Huron and Superior.
Provides navigation for large vessels between Lake Erie to the south and Lake Ontario to the north and forms an important link in the St. Lawrence Seaway. The canal was necessary because the Niagara River, the natural connection between Lakes Erie and Ontario, has impassable falls and rapids.
The Erie Canal connected the Great Lakes with New York City via the Hudson River at Albany.
Illinois and Michigan Canal
The Illinois and Michigan Canal connected the waters of the Illinois River with those of Lake Michigan.
Historical Look - selected resources
Shipping History on the Great Lakes
A Brief Look at Historic Tourism on the Great Lakes