The Desjardins Canal, completed by Alexis Begue in 1837, allowed large ships to navigate all the way to the town of Dundas. The newly created waterway quickly established Dundas as the head of navigation for Lake Ontario shipping; the canal connected produce from points west, to the markets at points east and south. With an increase in goods and a growing population, distilleries, breweries, lumber and flower mills flourished. Local lumber produced paper goods, carriages and furniture, while tanneries provided leather goods.
The result of all this economic activity? By 1840, Dundas was the major shipping point in the area. Unfortunately Dundas’ golden age as a shipping centre didn’t last. In 1853, the Great Western Railway was built between Toronto and London. The Dundas rail station was located half way up the escarpment, quite a distance from the downtown area, bypassing the Desjardins Canal.