The Canal du Nord is a 95-kilometre long canal in northern France. The canal connects the Canal latéral à l'Oise at Pont-l'Évêque to the Sensée Canal at Arleux. The French government, in partnership with coal-mining companies in the Nord and Pas-de-Calais departments, developed the canal to help French coal mining companies withstand foreign competition. Construction of the canal began in 1908 but halted in 1914, because of the First World War. The war caused widespread destruction of the canal and the French government made no attempt to resume construction until 1959. Construction recommenced in 1960 and the waterway opened to the public in 1965. The Canal du Nord and the Canal de Saint-Quentin may be supplanted by the Seine–Nord Europe Canal, a projected high capacity link between the Oise River at Janville and the high capacity Dunkirk-Escaut Canal.
Until the construction of the Canal du Nord, the Canal de Saint-Quentin was the only waterway linking the Seine basin to the north of France. The rise of the coal industry in Pas-de-Calais eventually saturated traffic on the Canal de Saint-Quentin and necessitated a new transportation link to the Île-de-France region to ensure that the northern French coal mining companies could effectively compete against their Belgian and English equivalents. In 1860, the principal coal companies in the Pas-de-Calais département grouped themselves into a Comité des Houillères du Pas-de-Calais, responsible for coping with transportation problems. The group expanded into the Comité des Houillères du Nord et du Pas-de-Calais in 1878, and began taking steps towards obtaining fundamental improvements in water connections.
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