Making extensive use of the National Archives and the Archives of Ontario, Styran and Taylor unveil previously unpublished information about the construction of the canals, including technical plans and drawings from a wide variety of sources. They illustrate the technical and management intricacies of building a navigational trade and commerce lifeline while also revealing the vivid characters - from businessman William Hamilton Merritt to engineer John Page - who inspired the project and drove it to completion. The history of the Welland Canals is a gripping tale of epic proportions. Given the ongoing importance of the Great Lakes in the North American economy, interest in the St. Lawrence Seaway - of which the Welland is "the Great Swivel Link" - and the relevance of labour history, This Great National Object will be of interest to enthusiasts and historians alike.
Roberta M. Styran, retired assistant professor of history at Brock University and co-author of The Great Swivel Link: Canada's Welland Canal, is the 2009 recipient of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering's W. Gordon Plewes Award. Robert R. Taylor i