Great Lakes-Seaway cargo rose 7% in 2021

Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway ships carried an estimated 149 million metric tons of cargo to and from domestic ports, and to overseas markets during the 2021 shipping season — an increase of 7% over pandemic-stricken 2020, a new report from the Chamber of Marine Commerce shows.

“This report paints a clear picture that the bi-national Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System supported the economic recovery and growth of many of our key industries in both Canada and the U.S. The navigation system delivered critical raw materials and products without any of the delay or disruption seen in other global markets,” said Bruce R. Burrows, President and CEO of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “In today’s high-inflation business environment, it’s more important than ever that we focus our attention and investment on this unique inland marine highway as part of the solution to many of our national transportation and supply chain problems.”

The 2021 Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System Tonnage Activity report, which annually collects and analyzes Canadian-flag, U.S.-flag and foreign-flag tonnage for the bi-national navigation system, provides an overview of the key cargo commodities and their underlying economic and business drivers.

The findings of the report show overall, cargo shipments on the binational navigation system totaled 149 million metric tons, up 7% over 2020. The results demonstrate significant progress in the system’s post-pandemic recovery — with total cargo reaching 94% of its pre-pandemic 2019 level.

Iron ore continues to be the most traded commodity on the system, accounting for roughly a third of total cargo tonnage on the GLSLS. Canadian and U.S. ships carried iron ore from Minnesota and/or Quebec mines to support the resurgence of steel manufacturing in both countries, while pellets were also carried to Quebec ports for export overseas.

Across the region, materials such as stone, cement and steel were in hot demand for housing and commercial/infrastructure-related construction projects in both Canada and the U.S.

Canadian-flag ships carried 63.2 million metric tons of cargo, a slight decrease of 1.3% compared to 2020. This was still a strong performance, however, with total cargo carried reaching 98% of the five-year average. While commodities like general cargo, stone, steel, cement and overall dry bulk posted increases – these were offset by a 10% decrease in grain shipments following a much smaller Prairie harvest. Petroleum shipments also fell by 5.7% (after a 6.6% decline in 2020) due to continuing work-from-home trends and travel restrictions in 2021.

U.S.-flag ships carried a total of 74.2 million metric tons (81.8 million net tons) – up 16.8% over 2020. Total cargo tonnage bounced back to 99% of its five-year average. Iron ore and coal shipments were up 12.4% and 43% respectively, recovering significantly from pandemic lows.

Foreign-flag ships transported 11.6 million metric tons of cargo through the St. Lawrence Seaway to and from overseas destinations — matching 2020’s performance. Ocean-going vessels played an important role in importing specialty steel from Europe, other project cargo and exporting grain to overseas destinations.

Maritime Professional 


CSL makes history by carrying the Canada Games Torch on board CSL St-Laurent

In a historic first for Canada Steamship Lines, the Canada Games and Great Lakes shipping, the Canada Games Torch embarked on board the biodiesel-fuelled bulk carrier, CSL St-Laurent during a ceremony last evening at St-Lambert Lock near Montreal.

As part of the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games Torch Relay, the traditional Roly McLenahan torch is being carried on board CSL St-Laurent along the St-Lawrence Seaway all the way to Port Colborne, where it will disembark to continue its voyage on land toward the opening of the Canada Games, taking place in the Niagara region from August 6th to the 21st.

“The Canada Games reinforce traits such as resilience, determination and tenacity in our young athletes, which are also qualities our seafarers share,” said Louis Martel, President and CEO, The CSL Group. “Shipping at CSL is effectively like a team sport, where each member – on water and on land – contributes to the operation of these huge machines in a safe, efficient and eco-responsible way.”

At the helm of CSL St-Laurent is Captain Anita Lambe, an all-around athlete and basketball player, who was selected to participate in the 1993 Canada Games. “Playing sports has always been a big part of my life, and it’s what drove me to join an industry that is all about being a team player – and marine shipping is exactly that,” remarked Captain Lambe. “It is truly an honour for me and my crew to be navigating the first-ever torch-bearing vessel.”

Earlier this year, CSL unveiled a colossal mural to capture the spirit of the Canada Games on CSL Welland, CSL St-Laurent’s sister ship. Created by four of Canada’s top young artists, the mural reflects the broad mix of people, cultures, backgrounds and abilities in amateur sport today. CSL St-Laurent is also adorned with a beautiful mural depicting a colourful Canada Goose in flight.

Both sister ships, along with six other vessels in CSL’s Great Lakes fleet are running on pure B100 biofuel, made entirely from waste plant material.  The success of using biofuel on CSL ships has demonstrated the viability and practicality of this green alternative in supporting the decarbonization of marine transportation.

“Congratulations to the Niagara 2022 Host Society and their partner Canada Steamship Lines for their beautiful and unique vision for the 2022 Canada Games Torch Relay,” said Kelly-Ann Paul, President and CEO of the Canada Games Council. “Having the torch journey along the waterways towards Niagara is certainly a first in Canada Games history, and one that will spark greatness and astounding momentum towards the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games in August.”

“For the next two days, we invite coastal communities along the St-Lawrence River to follow the historic journey of CSL St-Laurent from Montreal to the Niagara region,” added Mr. Martel. “We also encourage everyone to look out for CSL Welland on which The Runners and the legacy of the Niagara 2022 Canada Games will live on for years to come.”

CSL thanks the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, whose collaboration and support has been essential in making it possible for the Canada Games Torch to be carried along our waterways.

Canada Steamship Lines


New ‘Great Lakes Fest’ features day-long celebration, registration for antique boats and marine vendors open

TOLEDO, OH – The National Museum of the Great Lakes, in partnership with Ramsey Brothers Restorations, is planning a day-long celebration of Great Lakes History on Saturday, August 6 with the introduction of Great Lakes Fest. The new event, which the museum intends to host annually, will feature antique boats, classic cars, water and boating demonstrations, a marine mart, food trucks and kids activities.

“We wanted to celebrate Great Lakes history in a way that all ages and all interest levels could connect with,” shares the museum’s executive director Chris Gillcrist. “In addition to all of the normal activities the museum and our vessels have to offer, over the course of the day visitors can do anything from explore a selection of classic and antique boats and cars, to shop at our Marine Mart for nautical items to take home.”

The National Museum of the Great Lakes is working with Ramsey Brothers Restorations to collect a curated selection of historical vessels to showcase as well as selecting a sampling of antique Jeeps and automobiles to help connect the dots between Great Lakes history across the region and locally. Families, boatnerds, history lovers and more can come down, grab a bite to eat from a local food truck, take a scavenger hunt onboard the museum vessels, or cool down with a drink in their hand while visiting the sites on the museum grounds.

Admission to Great Lakes Fest is free to NMGL Members and children under 5. Non-member admission is included with the price of a Museum Combo pass. For a growing list of participating boats and vendors as well as a schedule of events, or to express interest in joining the antique boat show or marine mart, visit

To view the important details regarding this event, see the image gallery below.

National Museum of the Great Lakes

Saginaw gliding through Lake Erie bound for the Welland Canal in 2014. Jeff Cameron photo

Passing of the torch. CSL photo

CSL photo

CSL photo

Details regarding the upcoming National Museum of the Great Lakes event


Write A Comment