Seaway Wraps Up Navigation Season

January 16, 2018

Tonnage up by 9% over previous year

Cornwall, Ontario (January 16, 2018) – The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced today that the 2017 navigation season concluded on January 11, 2018, with the transit of the Federal Biscay through the St. Lambert Lock in Montreal at 6:08 PM.

A sustained blast of Arctic air that extended from late December into January rapidly accelerated the formation of ice within the Seaway. Contending with difficult weather conditions in the final two weeks, a handful of ships were delayed by the presence of ice in several locks. Seaway employees on the ground worked diligently to maintain the locks, while staff in the control centers worked with the Canadian Coast Guard, marine pilotage authorities, and other members of the marine transportation support system. Thanks to the dedication of all parties and their unrelenting efforts, the St. Lawrence Seaway concluded its 59th navigation season successfully.

Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the SLSMC, was quick to praise Seaway employees. “I am very proud of the professionalism, dedication and sheer grit that Seaway employees put forward to successfully wrap up the navigation season. In the face of weather conditions that swung from one extreme to the next, our teams overcame many challenges and all of the ships safely exited the waterway.”

Good Business Year – Tonnage Up by 9%

Robust economic growth brought about strong gains in a number of cargo sectors, with Seaway tonnage rising by 9% to over 38 million tonnes of cargo. From iron ore movements stoking both North American as well as Asian steel mills, to shipments of stone, cement and steel that enabled construction activity to keep moving at a brisk pace, the Seaway once again demonstrated its role as a vital binational transportation gateway supporting virtually every sector of the North American economy.

Craig H. Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation said, “The final tonnage results reflect solid gains over 2016, particularly with respect to iron ore shipments and we were pleased to see the strong finish for the year.”

The St. Lawrence Seaway System enables cargo to move both within North America, and also serves as a vital international gateway, supporting trade with more than 50 countries across the globe. Since its opening in 1959, over 2.9 billion tonnes of cargo valued at over $450 billion has moved through the St. Lawrence Seaway’s 15 locks.

“Without a doubt, 2017 was a good business year, and we successfully wrapped up the season thanks to the skill and dedication of our employees. Collectively, we got the job done” said the SLSMC’s CEO, Terence Bowles.

Quick Facts:

  • For the 2017 navigation season, the last cargo vessel to transit the Seaway’s Montreal / Lake Ontario section was the Federal Biscay which cleared the St. Lambert Lock on January 11 at 6:08 PM as it made its way downstream. The last cargo vessel to transit the Seaway’s Welland Canal was the Baie St. Paul, which departed Lock 8(Port Colborne) at 2:14 AM on January 1, headed for Lake Erie.
  • 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. Approximately 160 million tonnes of cargo travels over the System on an annual basis, supporting over 227,000 jobs and $35 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

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.