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December 13th, 2017

Beaches Living Guide - Spring & Summer 2016

Shipping Today in
Toronto Harbour

View from Cherry Street, an old shipping boat sits quietly in the channel - Toronto Neighbourhood Walks Project

With growing competition from railroads and highways, and the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, commercial traffic on the Erie Canal System declined dramatically in the latter part of the 20th century. Today, shipping takes place from the Atlantic Ocean to various ports on the Great Lakes using the St. Lawrence Seaway System.

The system was a joint venture of Canada and the USA to finally make a fully navigable waterway system so that a large vessel could travel from Montreal to Lake Erie.

The construction was an engineering miracle. It includes 13 Canadian locks, 2 US locks, and 5 short canals that make the system fully navigable for large freighters.

Both lake and ocean-going cargo ships enter the Gulf of St. Lawrence from the Atlantic Ocean and can go as far west as Duluth, Minnesota (the western tip of Lake Superior); or south to the tip of Lake Michigan (Chicago); or Windsor/ Detroit along the St. Clair River; or into Upper New York State through the Welland Canal into Lake Erie.

Today, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River form the longest deep-draft navigation system in the world, extending 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) into the North American heartland. Almost 25% of Seaway traffic travels to and from overseas ports, especially from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Every day various types of ships – cargo freighters, tankers and ferries carry loads from North America’s largest ports; including Toronto.

Queen Quay looking east, from east of Freeland in 1980s - Toronto Archives

Boat Types And Waterways and Ports

Some boats are especially made to transport bulk cargo like coal. Others carry bagged food! There are boats that only travel the fresh water lakes (lakers), and others that travel the oceans (called salties).

They may have traveled from northern Ontario, starting at the Port of Thunder Bay on Lake Superior, or from the US, perhaps Milwaukee or Chicago. But others have come down the St. Lawrence Seaway from South or Central America, Europe or Asia.

In addition to Toronto, there are over 100 commercial ports in the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway transportation system. Some ports are single docks; others, like in Toronto harbour, include multiple docks fully equipped to handle large, sea going vessels.

Heavy, Awkwardly-Shaped Cargo

There are real advantages in transporting goods over the water. For example, many items carried by large freighters could not be carried by trucks or railway cars because of their awkward shape or size. Such items include huge pieces

View from Cherry Street looking west towards Toronto Harbour

Featured Beaches
History & Landmarks
In Published Issues:


FALL & WINTER 2017/18


Spring & Summer 2017


Fall & Winter 2016/2017


Spring & Summer 2016


Fall & Winter 2016


Spring & Summer 2015


Fall & Winter 2014/2015


SPRING & SUMMER 2015


FALL & WINTER 2013/14


SPRING & SUMMER 2013


FALL & WINTER 2012


SPRING & SUMMER 2012


FALL & WINTER 2011


SPRING & SUMMER 2011


FALL & WINTER 2010/11


SPRING / SUMMER 2010


FALL / WINTER 2009-10


SPRING / SUMMER 2009


FALL / WINTER 2008-09


SPRING / SUMMER 2008


FALL / WINTER 2007-08


SPRING / SUMMER 2007


FALL / WINTER 2006-07


SPRING / SUMMER 2006


FALL / WINTER 2005-06


SPRING / SUMMER 2005


SUMMER / WINTER 2004-05