Museum Classroom: Welland Canal Colouring Page

Lesson: Welland Canal Colouring Page
Topic: The Diver
Grade: K-12

Activity: Colouring Page

Materials Required:

  • Pencil crayons or crayons
  • Markers

Materials Provided:

  • Colouring page

Pre-Lesson Activity: Discussion of the Welland Canals

Building the Welland Canals was no easy task and took many men and lots of hard work. The First Welland Canal, built in 1829 was used to help supply water to mills and factories. Today, the Fourth Welland Canal, built in 1932 is mainly used for large ships to traverse from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie to transport goods for the Niagara community and other parts of the world.

Overtime, each and every Welland Canal has required maintenance at fix part of the canal. With a partner or on your own, think about how one would go about repairing a part of the canal that is underwater. Would all canal operations need to stop to drain the entire canal? Who would be responsible for repairing the canal? What kind of tools would be used for the repair?


Colour the diver helmet. You may wish to choose colours that are close to the actual colour of the diver helmet itself as shown in pictures below or create your own colourful helmet.

This is the helmet of a diver. Up until 1972 when SCUBA (Self-contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) equipment came into use, all divers used helmets along with their suits that looked like this. In order to do maintenance on the canal, canal workers had to go below the surface into the water to repair the locks, gates, or weirs. It is called a dry suit and enabled the diver to wear warm clothing underneath.

The dry suit was made of two layers of cotton twill with a layer of pure rubber between. It weighed about approximately 127kg or 280lbs. The helmet was made of copper and brass, or copper and gunmetal. A hose was attached to the helmet and air was pumped in by a man standing at the edge of the canal. They used an air compressor. The man on the edge of the canal was able to communicate with the diver by using an amplifier and a speaker which was in the diver’s helmet.

The diver wore heavy metal boots that weighed 14.5kg or 32lbs each. The diver also wore a belt with weights that went around their waist which weighed 36kg or 80lbs. The diver would also sometimes wear a heavy oblong weight on their chest or back which weighed 18kg or 40lbs each. This was so the diver could keep their balance against the strong heavy water current in the canal. The diver would have a rope tied around their waist in order to signal to the man on the canal edge up above the surface.

Wrap-up Discussion
Looking at the picture of the dry suit what similarities and differences can you find between it and a modern day scuba suit? Why would the job of a diver be important to the Welland Canal? Looking at the gloves in the picture of the dry suit, do you think it was easy or hard for the diver to use tools while repairing the canal? Looking at the dry suit, what other uniform does this resemble? Hint: think outer space and the solar system.

Review the diver dry suit and its weights:

  • Dry suit – 127kg or 280lbs OR equivalent to a male Giant Panda
  • Heavy metal books – 14.5kg or 32lbs each OR equivalent to a baby Grey Seal
  • Belt with weights – 36kg or 80lbs OR equivalent to a male Labrador Retriever dog
  • Oblong weight (chest or back) – 18kg or 40lbs OR equivalent to an American Eskimo dog

Can you think of, or locate any household items that weigh as much as the diver dry suit items?

Start a Welland Canal Word Wall with terms discovered throughout Museum Classroom’s Welland Canal activities.

Dry suit: a waterproof bodysuit with a metal helmet, rubber neck, gloves, and feet

SCUBA: Self-contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus

Locks: use for moving ships between different levels of water on the Welland Canal

Gates: movable barrier separating water in a waterway from that in the lock

Weirs: low dam built across a stream to raise its level or divert its flow

Compressor: a pump or other machine that increases the pressure of gas such as oxygen 

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