Minister Marc Garneau Highlights Seaway’s Pivotal Role as Waterway Turns 60

March 26, 2019

First Lock System in the World Equipped with Innovative Hands Free Mooring

St. Lambert, Québec (March 26, 2019) – The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation today marked its 60th anniversary with the opening of the 2019 navigation season. The Federal Kumano served as the opening vessel, as the ship loaded with a bulk cargo of titanium chloride transited the St. Lambert Lock on its way to the Port of Ashtabula, Ohio.

The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, and Québec Minister for Transport Chantal Rouleau were among a number of dignitaries that gathered at the St. Lambert Lock to celebrate the St. Lawrence Seaway’s 60th anniversary. “The St. Lawrence Seaway has a distinguished past, a dynamic and vital present and will continue to play a pivotal role in Canada’s economy in the future,” said Minister Garneau. “It is with that in mind that the Government of Canada is continuously working with the Seaway and its partners to look at opportunities for increased economic and commercial developments and to move towards a more sustainable future. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I wish you a safe and successful navigation season.”

The St. Lawrence Seaway enjoyed strong results in 2018, with 41 million tonnes of cargo moving through its locks. With continued momentum in the grain sector, the 2019 navigation season should offer further gains in tonnage, enabling the Seaway to reach 42 million tonnes of cargo.

Terence Bowles, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, praised Seaway employees for their role in implementing a Hands Free Mooring system and converting the Seaway’s locks to remote operation. “Today, thanks to the many efforts of both past and present employees, we have a Seaway that offers carriers a more competitive route to the heartland of North America. With strong advancements in safety, reliability and efficiency, the Seaway is equipped to effectively serve its stakeholders for decades to come. A multi-billion dollar fleet renewal program being undertaken by Seaway carriers points to a bright future ahead for the waterway as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.”

Craig H. Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation said, “As the binational waterway turns 60, it is resilient and ready for the future.  New technologies, an exceptional reliability record, and significant investments in infrastructure are enhancing efficiencies and keeping the Seaway safe and competitive.  I look forward to advancing the partnership between our two countries and working closely with stakeholders throughout the Great Lakes Region who depend on the Seaway and who are essential to the Seaway’s success.”

As the most energy efficient mode of transportation, with the lowest carbon footprint, marine transportation offers an attractive means of boosting economic activity in a sustainable manner.

The St. Lawrence Seaway after 60 Years – Facts:

  • The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System is a “marine highway” that extends some 3,700 km from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. Cargo moving on the System supports over 329,000 jobs and $59 billion in economic activity.
  • The binational St. Lawrence Seaway serves as the linchpin within the broader waterway, connecting the lower St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes.  Beginning in Montreal and extending to points west, the Seaway’s 15 locks (13 Canadian and 2 U.S.) enable ships to climb a total of 168 metres from “sea level” up to Lake Erie. For more information on the St. Lawrence Seaway, please consult
  • Over the past 60 years, ships have transported almost 3 billion tonnes of cargo as they completed over 340,000 transits of Seaway locks.
  • Stakeholders within the System have been pioneers at advancing and developing new technologies that promote safety and environmental protection, including:
    • In 2002, the St. Lawrence Seaway was the first inland waterway in North America to adopt the Automatic Identification System (AIS) to share vital marine navigation data from ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore in real time.
    • Since 2010, Canadian shipowners have invested over $2 billion on specially-designed, eco-friendly vessels built for use in the Seaway.
    • In 2015, The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation received the Promising Innovation in Transport Award by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for developing the first Hands Free Mooring system in the world for a lock system, which uses vacuum-pad technology instead of wire lines.
    • In 2018, The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation completed its modernization program with the installation of Hands Free Mooring at all Canadian high lift locks, and the conversion of these locks to remote control operation.

About The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation:

  • The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation was established in 1998 as a not-for-profit corporation by the Government of Canada, Seaway users and other key stakeholders. In accordance with provisions of the Canada Marine Act, the Corporation manages and operates the Canadian assets of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which remain the property of the Government of Canada, under a long-term agreement with Transport Canada.

Photos from the Opening of the Seaway