The St. Lawrence Seaway is a system of locks, canals and waterways that connect the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes in Canada. The 2342 mile international waterway project opened in 1950s included construction of a massive hydroelectric dam. Many communities, including villages in the area between Cornwall, Ontario in Canada and Massena, New York, in the United States, were obliterated in the process.
The artist discovered the sunken villages by accident. While flying over the St. Lawrence River in 2009, Helbig spotted the first path. After a few flyovers he found a road and some more foundations-all remains of villages destroyed by artificial floods. Some of the underwater ruins have been scuba-diving attractions for a while, but Helbig’s haunting photos present the first comprehensive documentation of the sunken villages. The project, which aims to memorialize the experience of loss wrought by artificial floods, is currently on display at the Marianne van Silfhout Gallery at St. Lawrence College in Ontario.