Massena Public Library Presentation – Feb 20, 2014

140220 Massen Public Library SV Poster flt


Louis Helbig presents “Sunken Villages” the Lost Villages of the St Lawrence River

Aerial photos of the Canadian and American villages destroyed by the St Lawrence Seaway together with interviews of people affected by the loss of their communities. 


Photo & Audio Presentation and Artist Talk

Thursday February 20, 2014, 6:30-8:30 PM


Massena Public Library
41 Glenn St, Massena, NY 13662, United States



Debbie Fuehring, Massena Public Library, NY, USA: 315 769 9914

Louis Helbig, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: 613 263 0264


Canadian artist and aerial photographer Louis Helbig will show his multi-media “Sunken Villages” project. It combines aerial photographs of the lost villages – through the air and the water – with audio from extensive interviews with people affected by the loss of their communities in the 1950s.

The project, most recently exhibited at the Marianne van Silfhout Gallery at St Lawrence College in Brockville Ontario, and the multi-media piece, presented at the National Gallery of Canada, is helping bring attention to a once greatly celebrated, but now largely forgotten, episode in America and Canada’s shared history. Unlike the original Seaway project with its 1950s focus on modernity and progress, the Sunken Villages project centers on the experience of those most affected, giving voice, sometimes for the first time, to those who lost their communities.

This is the American debut of the Sunken Villages project. The artist welcomes audience participation to share: stories, memories and experiences, as well as concrete ideas and suggestions to expand the Sunken Villages project to properly include both the American and Canadian experience.



July 1, 1958 is remembered as Inundation Day in the region around Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, New York. At 08:00 a controlled explosion tore open a cofferdam and four days later an area that had been home to 7,500 people disappeared under the waves of Lake St. Lawrence, part of the newly created St. Lawrence Seaway.

On the Canadian side, twelve communities, some dating back to the 1700s, were affected. Following the old King’s Highway No. 2, upstream: Maple Grove, Mille Roches, Moulinette, Sheeks Island, Wales, Dickinson’s Landing, Farran’s Point and Aultsville were entirely destroyed; Iroquis was demolished and moved a mile to continue on in name; and, about half of Morrisburg – including its waterfront and most of its business district and main street – were leveled.