Transportation, Water Transport
seaway locks, intermodal shipment, Port-Cartier, Lawrence Seaway, industrial expansion
Since the earliest explorations, water travel has been important. The St. Lawrence-Great Lakes navigation system extends 3,769 km (2,342 mi) from the Gulf of St. Lawrence into the center of the continent. The opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 contributed greatly to industrial expansion, but the seaway is declining in significance with the growth of intermodal transport, which integrates water, rail, and road shipments. Vancouver and Halifax especially have capitalized on intermodal shipment and are the seaway’s strongest competitors. In the mid-1990s the seaway accounted for only 12 percent of Canada’s international cargo shipments. About 60,000 vessels carrying foreign trade enter and leave Canadian ports yearly; cargo unloaded in 1995 totaled some 83 million metric tons, and about 175 million metric tons were loaded. The ports of Vancouver, Sept-Iles, Montreal, Port-Cartier, Quebec, Halifax, Saint John, Thunder Bay, Prince Rupert, and Hamilton handled most of the cargo. In 1995 shipping accounted for 6.1 percent of the total value generated within the transportation sector.
Canada does not have a large merchant marine, and the great majority of Canadian overseas trade is carried in ships of other countries. Canadian merchant vessels of 100 gross registered tons (GRT) or more numbered 875 in 2001, with a total GRT of 2.7 million. Most ships of Canadian registry operate along the coast, on the St. Lawrence Seaway, or on the Great Lakes. Ships called lake carriers, or “lakers,” are built in eastern Canada specifically for the Seaway-Great Lakes traffic. Typically long and flat, they are sized to the dimensions of the seaway locks and include innovations such as the self-unloading carrier.
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