In the 1990s when the Internet was first becoming popular, "information superhighway" was a term used by people to describe where they had gone looking for anything interesting online.
But passing by just south of Wolfe Island is a superhighway of another kind, the Marine Superhighway, the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System.
Opening to the public on Saturday, an exhibit extolling the benefits of the Marine Superhighway and how it affects the daily lives of millions of people will be hosted at the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes.
Sandrena Raymond, the museum's curator, has been working with staff and volunteers putting in long hours to get the exhibit ready.
Raymond is a graduate of Queen's University and the University of Toronto and has been the museum's curator since December.
The exhibit features maps, photos, new ship models, products that the ships carry, and hands-on interactive displays, one of which shows how a ship goes through a St. Lawrence Seaway lock and another how ships self-load and unload their cargo.
Souvenirs will also be on display from the opening of the seaway in 1959.
The museum will also have a real-time tracking display of all of the ships moving through the system, among other displays.
The new permanent exhibit will stress how marine traffic in the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes affects the lives of millions of people living in Canada and the United States.
The Marine Superhighway stretches from the Lower St. Lawrence River at the Atlantic Ocean all the way to Duluth. Minn., on the western shore of Lake Superior, a distance of 3,700 km. It borders two provinces -- Quebec and Ontario -- and eight American states.
Three shipping companies -- Canada Steamship Lines, Algoma Central and Fednav -- make up the majority of ship traffic.
Many of the ships are more than 225 metres long, about the length of two football fields.
It is the longest deep-draft seaway in the world and it takes longer than eight days to sail from one end to the other.
According to the marine museum, the corridor serves more than 100 million people living on its shores and beyond.
Raymond said that without the system, items people take for granted today wouldn't be as available as they are or would cost much more.
"To me, what makes it important is we have the products we're so used to having," she said.
"Opening up the seaway turned all these inner ports into sea ports. Everything is available to us now. It created a huge difference in the economy, allowing us to have the things we have."
Since the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, cargo ships no longer stop in Kingston. The superhighway connects 15 major and 50 regional ports and moves 180 million tonnes annually. One-quarter of the cargo is destined for or has come from ports in Europe, South America, the Middle East and Africa.
More than 225,000 jobs are provided in and along the shipping route.
The exhibit will also point out that transporting goods by ship is one of the most economical and environmentally friendly ways of doing business.
An average-sized ship can carry 25,000 tonnes of cargo, equal to 225 rail cars or 870 trucks. Moving over water, rather than rail or highway, is much better and not a strain on highways and other infrastructure, Raymond said.
"With the congestion that we already face, it would be insane," she said.
"With the amount of stuff being moved, it would not be feasible to do it by truck or by train."
According to the museum's research, the environmental impact of shipping, based on hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions, is significantly lower than its railway and trucking counterparts.
The exhibit opens with a private reception on Friday evening and will be open to the public in the Page Room at the museum starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Admission to the museum at 55 Ontario St. is $8.50 for adults, $7.75 for seniors, $6 for students and $4 for children five to 14 years old.
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Annual amount of cargo carried on ships in the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes, in tonnes.
- Iron Ore: 60 million
- Coal and coke: 30 million
- Aggregates and cement: 26 million
- Wheat, barley, corn and soybeans: 22 million
- Petroleum products: nine million
- Salt: 8.5 million