Bill Gates controls a 16.36 percent stake in Canadian National Railway through Cascade Investment LLC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust.  |  File photo

Bill Gates owns largest ownership stake at CN

The founder of Microsoft is also the largest farmland owner in the United States and has invested heavily in plant protein

The fourth richest man in the world has quietly become by far the biggest shareholder in Canada’s largest railway. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has amassed a sizeable ownership stake in Canadian National Railway Co. Most of those shares were acquired through Cascade Investment LLC, an investment firm solely owned by Gates. Cascade owns 101,400,770 shares, […] Read more

Grain volumes at the Port of Thunder Bay last exceeded nine million tonnes in a single shipping season in 1997. | Port of Thunder Bay photo

Grain drives Thunder Bay’s successful year

Officials with the Port of Thunder Bay say the 2020 shipping season was the port’s most successful in more than two decades. The northern Ontario port moved nearly 10.2 million tonnes of cargo in 2020, up from 9.3 million tonnes in 2019. Higher grain volumes were a key driver behind the port’s improved cargo volumes. […] Read more

Omar Alghabra is a newcomer to cabinet, although he served as parliamentary secretary to the minister of international trade diversification. While much of his focus will be on the airline industry, which is under pressure from COVID-19 restrictions and fewer travelers, he will also be responsible for grain transportation. | File photo

Cabinet shuffle produces new transport minister

A small cabinet shuffle in Ottawa has resulted in changes in three portfolios, including transport. Omar Alghabra is a newcomer to cabinet, although he served as parliamentary secretary to the minister of international trade diversification. First elected in 2006, he represents Mississauga Centre. While much of his focus will be on the airline industry, which […] Read more


Mark Hemmes, the president of the federally appointed grain handling monitor Quorum Corp.
, said 2020 was a great year for Canada’s export grain industry, with pandemic-caused slumps in other commodity exports leaving railways and ports free to focus on shipping western Canadian crops. | G3 photo

Grain handling system sees major overhaul

Every element of the system has radically evolved since the mid-1990s, from trucks to elevators to trains to ports


In almost every way, the Canadian grain handling and exporting system is a quantum leap forward from where it was a quarter of a century ago. “There’s been more change in the last 25 years than, I think, the previous 50,” said Mark Hemmes, the president of the federally appointed grain handling monitor Quorum Corp. […] Read more

Canadian Pacific Railway’s grain shipping revenue was a hair below $1 billion as it earned $999,230,808 during the 2019-20 crop year.
 Canadian National Railway’s grain revenue was slightly less at $933,502,041.
 | File photo

Major railways exceed revenue cap

The pandemic has hit railways hard, as shipments of commodities and consumer demand fell for much of 2020. However, there was one bright spot for the railways — grain. Canadian Pacific Railway’s grain shipping revenue was a hair below $1 billion as it earned $999,230,808 during the 2019-20 crop year. Canadian National Railway’s grain revenue […] Read more


Bill C-49, formally known as the Transportation Modernization Act, passed in the spring of 2018 with the promises of more transparency from the railways, reciprocal penalties within service agreements and long-haul interswitching options, among others.
 | File photo

Transport changes get good reviews

Grain industry players say the legislation that modernized transportation regulations two years ago is generally working as intended. Bill C-49, formally known as the Transportation Modernization Act, passed in the spring of 2018 with the promises of more transparency from the railways, reciprocal penalties within service agreements and long-haul interswitching options, among others. Farmers applauded […] Read more

Chris Heikkinen, finance and communications co-ordinator with the Thunder Bay Port Authority, said the port recorded another strong month for grain shipments in May. | Photo courtesy Port of Thunder Bay

Grain still pouring through Thunder Bay

Prairie grain continued to flow through the Ontario Port of Thunder Bay at a brisk pace last month, buoyed by strong export demand for wheat and a rail system that’s been moving grain at a record pace since early March. Chris Heikkinen, finance and communications co-ordinator with the Thunder Bay Port Authority, said the port […] Read more

In an exclusive interview with The Western Producer April 17, Jean-Marc Ruest, senior vice-president of corporate affairs with Richardson International, said the Canadian grain industry has been working

Grain supply chain performing ‘pretty well’

A top executive at Canada’s largest grain handling and exporting company says the country’s grain supply chain has performed reasonably well despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In an exclusive interview with The Western Producer April 17, Jean-Marc Ruest, senior vice-president of corporate affairs with Richardson International, said the Canadian grain industry has been […] Read more


Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association, said Canada’s ability to continue servicing customers hinges on the transportation system and for the grain companies he represents that means relying on the two national railways to continue to perform.
 | File photo

Shippers reassure nervous buyers

Canada’s grain customers are getting antsy about food security, say industry officials. “What we have seen is communication from some of our more important trading partners that are looking for certainty of supply into the future,” said Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association. There has been contact at the trade association […] Read more

This shipping season has highlighted how vulnerable the system is to a myriad of disruptions, said Pulse Canada president Greg Cherewyk. There has been a

Interruptions are inevitable, grain transportation needs backup plan

Canada needs a transportation resiliency plan, says a senior executive of a major agricultural commodity group. This shipping season has highlighted how vulnerable the system is to a myriad of disruptions, said Pulse Canada president Greg Cherewyk. There has been a “perfect storm” of obstacles in 2019-20. But there will always be something interrupting the […] Read more