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December 13th, 2017

Beaches Living Guide - Spring & Summer 2016

Our Port of Toronto Today

The Arthur M. Anderson Great Lakes fleet, unloading a shipmento

If you get a chance to drive along the eastern end of the Gardiner Expressway, take a look at the view over the lake. Most likely you’ll see at least one Great Lakes freighter. They look like long, flat barges, with a tall "pilot house" at one end. You also may see one of the large “booms” that load and unload cargo.

These boats aren’t “on display” – they are an active part of the shipping business that continues to take place today in Toronto harbour. Last year alone, the Port of Toronto moved 2 million metric tones of bulk cargo.

The Port of Toronto is one of Canada’s largest major inland ports. Our port connects Toronto, by water, to every continent on earth. Once a ship is docked at one of the many "berthing spaces", the cargo (and those on board) are literally steps from downtown and right next to rail lines and major highways.

The harbour has 1,800 metres of berthing space - this is the space where ships carrying cargo can pull in next to the shore and not get stuck on the bottom of the lake. The depth is about 27 feet or 8.2 metres.

Our port connects Toronto to every continent on earth

SS Edmund Fitzgerald, 29 Missing: The True and Tragic Story of the Disappearance of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald by Andrew Kantar


Large Cruise Ships

It’s not uncommon to see a beautiful white cruise ship in our Harbour. The Port of Toronto welcomes cruise ships and passengers from across the globe through the Cruise Ship Terminal at 8 Unwin Avenue at the corner of Unwin Avenue and Cherry Street.

About the ships you might see

Ships registered in over 60 countries visit Great Lakes ports each year. More than 800 ocean vessels transit the Great Lakes each season bound for American or Canadian harbours.

Most ships on the Great Lakes are owned by private companies, either Canadian or American. The logos or insignia of these companies are usually on the smoke stack. The hull colours vary as well, according to the company brand.

Many of these insignia are made up of common geometric shapes in combination with coloured bands and initial letters; some use corporate logos or other unique symbols. It’s tricky to figure them all out. For example, you might expect to see an initial "B" on Bethlehem Steel’s insignia, pictured at left. But instead, the insignia promotes one of the firm’s products, a steel I-beam.

The flag of their country, where registered, flies at the stern (the back). Don’t be fooled by a Canadian flag at the bow (front). Ships may also fly the national flag of the host port they are visiting at the bow.

Watching ships entering and leaving Toronto Harbour

Wondering about a ship in the harbour, or want to watch ships coming in and out of our harbour, you can view it in real time online at www.cruisin.me/cruise-port-tracker/canada/toronto-ontario or call 416-462-3937.

Note: One of the best-known Great Lake freighters was the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in 1975 during a storm on Lake Superior. Famous musician and songwriter, Gordon Lightfoot, wrote a song about it, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

Who uses the Port of Toronto?

The port serves various purposes:

  • Provides a port for 220 metre-long lakers (Great Lakes freighters), which continuously deliver cargo throughout the year.
  • Serves the needs of over 10,000 recreational boats of all kinds in the Outer Harbour Marine.
  • Provides the largest harbour fleet of tour boats in North America. These include small cruise boats as well as masted schooners and sailing yachts.
  • Operates Toronto’s city and airport ferries.
  • Welcomes and gives a port to visiting cruise ships.

Today Port of Toronto is also home to a few large, global companies which receive and deliver goods for construction, road building and maintenance, energy and other specialized industries. Some are recognized as household names because of their products (like Redpath sugar), or Essroc Italcementi (the name includes the word "cement").

  • Essroc
  • Lafargc Canada Inc.
  • Cargo Dockers Ltd.
  • Strada Aggregates
  • Redpath Sugar Refinery
  • Rideau Buk Terminals

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