Welland Canal Opens Today Ushering in 75th Anniversary Season

March 20, 2007

(St. Catharines, Ontario, March 20, 2007) – The St. Lawrence Seaway officially opened today with the transit of the CSL Tadoussac through Lock 3 of the Welland Canal. In addition to establishing a new record for the earliest opening date, this year marks the 75th anniversary of the fourth Welland Canal, which opened in 1932. Ontario Minister of Transportation Donna Cansfield provided the keynote address at the opening ceremony, which took place at the Lock 3 St. Catharines Museum.

With growing recognition of the marine mode as the most fuel-efficient means of transporting cargo per tonne-kilometre, while generating the lowest total volume of greenhouse gas emissions, interest in Hwy H2O is steadily building. The Seaway recorded strong traffic results in 2006, with tonnage increasing 9% to 47.2 million tonnes as new cargo movements reflected the growing importance of shortsea shipping in complementing the road and rail intermodal networks.

“We are building on this momentum and extending a number of incentives to encourage more shippers to utilize the Seaway”, stated Richard Corfe, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “Within our system’s existing locks and channels, we have the capacity to increase our cargo volume by over 60%. This opportunity is very significant, in light of clogged land-based arteries and an increasing desire among corporations to improve their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Welland Canal was an engineering marvel of its time and today the Seaway, which encompasses the Welland Canal, is yet again on the vanguard of technology. Improvements underway include testing of a hands-free vessel mooring system at Lock 8 on the Welland Canal, a vessel self-spotting system in the Montreal region to enable crew members to judge precisely their approach into a lock, and a sophisticated 3D charting system which provides an accurate model of the channel bottom, with the potential to enhance navigation and available vessel draft.

At the ceremony, Richard Corfe was joined by his American counterpart, Collister Johnson Jr., Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation which administers the two U.S. locks within the St. Lawrence Seaway.

This year marks the Seaway’s 49th consecutive shipping season, with today’s ceremonies to be followed by the opening of the Montreal / Lake Ontario section tomorrow.