Before the completion of the canals between here and Montreal in 1847, Prescott was the eastern terminus of Great Lakes navigation. Established at the head of Galops Rapids in 1810, it soon became a centre for the forwarding, or shipping, trade and an important centre in Montreal's commercial system. One of the earliest forwarders at Prescott was Captain William Gilkison, who began operations on this property about 1811. As the population of Upper Canada increased rapidly after 1820, the trade expanded and forwarding firms, including Henderson & Hooker and Macpherson, Crane & Co., established shipbuilding yards, wharfs, and warehouses along this waterfront. Prescott's position in the forwarding trade began to decline in 1847 when uninterrupted navigation from Montreal to Lake Ontario became possible.