Grain loading operations at the port were expected to increase quickly. | Port of Thunder Bay photo

Thunder Bay starts shipping

The 2021 shipping season is underway at the Port of Thunder Bay, Ont. Tug Sharon M1 and Barge Huron Spirit arrived at the Port of Thunder Bay March 26, signaling the start of the new navigation season. The tug and barge are owned and operated by McKeil Marine of Burlington, Ont. The barge carried a […] Read more

Grain loading operations at the port were expected to increase quickly. | Port of Thunder Bay photo

Thunder Bay kicks off new shipping season

The 2021 shipping season is underway at the Port of Thunder Bay, Ont. Tug Sharon M1 and Barge Huron Spirit arrived at the Port of Thunder Bay March 26, signaling the start of the new navigation season. The tug and barge are owned and operated by McKeil Marine of Burlington, Ont. The barge carried a […] Read more

Inventory levels at prairie grain terminals are tight because farmers continued to deliver last month while railways fell behind in deliveries.  | File photo

Nasty February magnifies supply chain issues

One consequence is an imbalance between grain stocks in country elevators and stocks at west coast export terminals

Frigid temperatures in February have thrown a speedbump in front of what has otherwise been an exceptional year for bulk grain movement. Canada’s bulk supply chain is still feeling the effects of a two- to three-week cold snap in February that slowed rail traffic, disrupted export sales programs and pushed grain inventories in the country […] Read more


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