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Each winter, the Welland Canal is drained and shut down for about three months for upkeep work. This year, crews are replacing the tie-up walls near locks #1 to #4, and rebuilding a section between locks #1 and #2 that collapsed in a rainstorm two years ago

Heavy machinery is shown at work during annual maintenance upkeep on the Welland Canal in St. Catharines, Ont. The largest of the ships that navigate this canal generally have about four feet of water beneath them before reaching this bottom, and about six inches of space on each side.

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Water moves only in the lowest level in the Welland Canal in early January. The lower portion of the 44-kilometer canal - from lock #7 north to beyond lock #1 is closed for about three months each year to allow for annual maintenance on the locks.

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The view from lock #2 north toward lock #1 on Feb. 1. The stretch of tie-up wall at left is part of the 3 kilometres of tie-up wall that will be replaced with steel over the next 15 years.

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New wooden 'bumpers' have been placed on this steel lock door.

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A man walks along the bottom of the drained passageway between locks #4 and #5. These doors, the largest, are 90 feet high.

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With much of the Welland Canal drained of water, work crews are able to proceed with annual maintenance. Employees of Brennan Paving Ltd. of Port Colborne, Ont.,, work on a project to stabilize the east bank of the spillway.

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John Barrette, a process support co-ordinator with the St. Lawrence Seaway stands on the bottom of lock #2.

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Zebra mussels on the steel lock doors are exposed while much of the water has been drained from the locks to allow for work on the Welland Canal.

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A rusted old shopping cart, encrusted with zebra mussels is one of the many objects left uncovered after much of the water has been drained to allow for work on the Welland Canal in St. Catharines. Before post-911 security measures were put in place old automobiles were often found at the bottom of the drained canal.

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Workers are seen on the upper level of lock #2. The doors are 45 feet high and the drop to the next level down is another 45 feet below.

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Men work on the 45-foot steel doors of lock #2.

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Beyond this steel lock door a crew replaces the facing of a concrete wall beneath the train trestle that crosses at lock #4. Locks four, five, and six are called the flight locks because they function like a large flight of stairs.

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Over time the the seventy-year old wooden piers have been damaged by ships which use them as a guide into the narrow locks.

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