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Canada’s Top Major 5 Ports

icontainers_news_1a50488895.svgPorts & Routes
Updated on 27 Dec 2023
5 min read
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Canada is one of the premier destinations for trade whether airborne or seaborne. This North American country runs all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean with its three territories and ten provinces. It even veers towards the Arctic Ocean to the north.

Canada is not only famous for its maple syrup but for its size which is two fifths of the North American continent. Since it borders several ocean fronts, it has some of the most efficient and modern ports in the world.

1. Port of Vancouver

Overseen by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, this port is the country’s largest port. In North America, it’s the third largest in terms of tonnage capacity. As the main port facilitating trade between the nation and other world economies because of its strategic positioning between the different ocean trade routes and the river fishing lanes. It’s serviced by an intricate network of interstate highways and rail lines.

The port handles over 76 million metric tonnes of the country’s total cargo which loosely translates to over $43 billion in import and export goods from global trading partners. With 25 terminals handling container, bulk cargo and break cargo the port provides employment directly to over 30,000 individuals who deal with the maritime cargo, shipbuilding and repairs, the cruise industry and other non-maritime enterprises. The maritime cargo sector is the largest revenue producer and employer in the port followed by the cruise industry sector.

The Vancouver is the base port for the Vancouver – Alaska cruise. In 2019 the port has handled over a million cruise passenger from 288 cruise liners which is a 22% increase in passenger traffic from last year. And with each cruise liner the city nets roughly $3 million in revenue.

2. Port of Montreal

Located on the Saint Lawrence River seaway this port has had a massive impact on the economy of Quebec and Montreal. This is because it lies on the shortest direct trade route between North America, the Mediterranean region and Europe.

Using some of the latest technology has ensured efficiency in this port. They just started using AI driven intelligence to predict the best times for drivers to pick up their or drop off their containers. In addition, they have received funding for the construction of a fifth container terminal which gives the port even greater capacity than its current annual capacity of at least 1.45 million TEUs. With the new terminal the port is projected to be able to handle 2.1 million TEUs. The cargo tonnage of this port annually is more than 35 million metric tonnes.

3. Port of Prince Rupert

Port of Prince Rupert was built as an alternative option to the Vancouver port and it has a massive reach to the worldwide market. It has efficient operations moving exports like wheat and barley through its food production terminal, Prince Rupert grain. This terminal is among Canada’s most modern grain facilities with the capacity of shipping over seven million tonnes of grain annually. It also has a storage capacity of over 200,000 tonnes. It serves the North African, Americas and Middle East markets.

The Westview Terminal handles the port’s exports of lumber which makes their way into the European markets while the Ridley Coal Terminal exports metallurgical coal used in steel manufacture in the Asian economies. This is the port of call when exporting most of Canada’s natural resources. It’s linked to mines, forest and fields within Canada and the port is able to handle the bulk cargo coming from the interior Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan effectively preventing cargo congestion at the other port and unnecessary delays in exportation.

4. Port of Halifax

With connections to 150 economies worldwide, this port is the epitome of efficiency with its self-imposed deadlines that help it move cargo fast while still retaining high levels of professionalism. The port plans to be able to handle two mega vessels simultaneously by March of 2020 when the container berth will be fully extended. The container traffic on the East coast of Canada where this port is located has increased twice fold meaning the port has to expand to accommodate the traffic and take advantage of the influx.

The port strategically sits at the gateway of both outgoing and inbound cargo traffic in North America. Perhaps its biggest advantage is that** it is an ice-free harbor as well as being a deep water port with very little tides** so it can operate all throughout the year comfortably. It’s among the top four container ports in Canada that has the capacity of handling large volumes of cargo. It features facilities for oil, grain, gas, general cargo and a shipbuilding and repair yard. Apart from handling breakbulk, roll on/off and bulk cargo it also welcomes cruise liners. It has distinguished itself as a leading cruise ship port of call globally.

5. Port of Saint John

This port lies to the east of the country and is the largest port on that end. It handles bulk, breakbulk, liquid cargo, dry cargo and containers. The port can handle approximately 28 million metric tonnes of cargo and its connection to 500 other ports worldwide makes it a major facilitator of commerce in the country.

The Port of Saint John boasts of excellent connectivity to the inland markets of Canada via road and rail as well as a high popular cruise terminal. They also have terminals to cater to crude oil, scrap metal recycling, molasses among other goods and products.

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