Coteau-du-Lac, located on the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Lake Ontario, was vital to the development of Canada. A lock-system and canal were built to facilitate the movement of goods to and from the western parts of the colony in the non-winter months, but in winter, portage was necessary. To protect the vital portage during the War of 1812 a military post was established here. It included a blockhouse designed in such a way that sentries could kept close watch on the river and canal and protect them with a quick-loading cannon. The mere existence of this outpost deterred the Americans from attempting a direct river attack on Montreal. Coteau-du-Lac is located about 40 km (25 miles) southwest of Montreal and 20 km (12 miles) from the Ontario border via the Jean-Lesage Highway.