(Under the direction of Professor Timothy Runyan), Department of History, August 2003.
This thesis identifies and defines a typology for Welland sailing canal ships, the first commercial Great Lakes vessel type. The Welland Canal played a pivotal role in trade between the Great Lakes during the nineteenth century. It also gave rise to a new vessel type, one that would maximize profits for investors. The influences and effects of the canal on ship design are analyzed from the establishment of the first Welland Canal in 1829, and the enlargement and successive opening of the second Welland Canal in 1846. The study concludes in 1882, with the opening of the third Welland Canal.
A principal figure in Canal shipbuilding was Lewis Shickluna, who constructed the Silgo, neePrince of Wales. The Silgo is the primary example of a Welland sailing canal vessel in this study. The sunken vessel was documented using appropriate archaeological methods and employing historical documentation of the vessel and the vessel type. The Silgo is contrasted with other sailing canal ships, towards understanding construction details and modifications. Ultimately these vessels became Great Lakes workhorses and form an important element of maritime history.