Life After the Canal
When the canal was officially opened in the spring of 1832, thousands of tradesmen and labourers were left without work. While some of Bytown’s labour force relocated to neighbouring towns, or even travelled back to their native countries, many tried to transfer their skills to the booming timber trade. By 1829, the Ottawa Valley produced over one million cubic feet (28,000 cubic metres) of lumber annually. The timber industry had once been dominated by French-Canadian workers since its foundation by wealthy Hull industrialist Philomen Wright in the early 1800s, but with its newly expanded workforce the local lumber industry grew exponentially, becoming renowned worldwide for its innovative techniques.