The Welland canal passage starts with doing a reservation. Reservations can be done any time you have an idea what day you anticipate passing. Reservations can be canceled within specified time limits. Not sure about your payment as I did not experience this.
The reservation process is quite straight forward doing it online at their website and making payment. There is a daily updated pleasure craft lock schedule that anyone can access at any time which indicates that the AM reservation passage start is between 09:00hrs and 13:00hrs and the PM reservation start is between 13:00hrs and 18:00hrs. This is updated every day at 7:30AM when the schedule is set. More on this later in this article.
On making the reservation, you chose the AM or PM as part of the reservation process. Note that it takes about 12 hours to make a passage in the Welland Canal so you decide. You also need to select an up bound (Lake Ontario to Erie) or down bound (Lake Erie to Ontario) passage. Our down bound opportunities were only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Up bound has more days available than the 2 down bound days. In 2022, the price of passage for the 8 locks in the Welland Canal was $200. Once paid online, you see on the screen your reservation confirmation as well as receive 2 emails indicating payment made and reservation confirmation without a start time. No need to save the payment screen with these emails. I made my reservations 2 days in advance and once done, my lack of passage reservation start time caused me increasing levels of concern. You see, I noticed a number of inconsistencies in the information found on the Welland Canal resource pages.
For starters, do not expect the confirmation to give you an actual start time, start time is best efforts anyways. Checking daily schedule update the day I made the reservation showed no info on any specific boats coming up bound that day. Maybe there were none so was going to check the next morning to see what the info looked like. Low and behold at the end of the day there were all these boats that made it up bound in the canal that day. So the daily 7:30AM schedule update notice does not give all the info. So I read the Seaway Pleasure Craft Guide available on line. Paid particular attention to the info provide with timings. Schedules are confirmed by 7:30AM each day and one needs to be ready at the start at 9:00AM yet the guide said 9:00AM for up bound passages and 7:00AM at the start for down bound per the guide. But the schedule is confirmed at 7:30AM, oh my head hurts.
Well they give a phone number to call for the schedule start in the morning or call and check in on VHF Channel 14. So the day before our passage, I call the number figuring it would be a recording giving that days schedule and what do I get, an actual person, perfect. We have a very pleasant conversation that yes we are registered and need to be at the Port Colborne City dock just before the first bridge in the canal by 7:00AM. Ahh, info I have seen so that is what we need to do. Relief finally with a confirmed start time. Now I can sleep with the alarm set for 6AM.