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Prior to 1838, there was a distinct preference for Canadian built engines for steamboats operating below the Welland Canal. The technology used in those engines was unique, in many respects to the waters of eastern North America. The labour pool and entrepreneurial talent which designed and built these engines moved freely across the border and about the region. The costs of delivery and the relative ease of servicing from Montreal helped define that city's industrial hinterland. As similar foundries emerged along the Great Lakes in centres like York, Niagara, Buffalo and Cleveland, the reach of the Montreal firms was clearly defined.

The constant demand for speed and power from steamboat proprietors drove was may be described as "conservative innovation" in the low pressure, walking beam engine. In certain sectors of the Great Lakes trades the walking beam would persist well into the twentieth century. But for the generation of engine builders before 1838, the independent foundries specializing in marine engines helped define the nature of the "Steam Revolution" in the Canadas.


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