Shipping has been a backbone of the Thunder Bay economy for the better part of a century.
The industry today still employs about 1,800 people in the city and on Tuesday its past, present and future joined forces at Mariner’s Hall where a new display celebrating shipping was unveiled.
The centrepiece of the showcase is a 2.4-metre scale model of MV Thunder Bay, one of four Trillium-class lakers built by Canada Steamship Lines.
The display is accompanied by a series of black-and-white framed photographs depicting the history of shipping in the city.
Dan McCarthy, vice-president of marketing and customer service with Canada Steamship Lines, said it’s important to recognize Thunder Bay’s role as a hub in the country’s shipping network.
“If you were to step back and look at Google Earth and you looked at the Great Lakes system, there are some ports that really stand out as being absolutely strategic and vital to the future of not only western Canada, but also the whole shipping network within the Great Lakes,” McCarthy said.
“Thunder Bay is clearly within the leaders of the ports within the Great Lakes in terms of the volume that they ship, and not only that, but the diversity.”
In addition to grain, which makes of the bulk of the cargo shipped through the port, Thunder Bay also handles a great deal of coal, and more recently, wind turbines destined for Canada’s west.
Mayor Keith Hobbs said CSL has played a huge role in Thunder Bay’s past, making it only fitting the company and its latest ship be recognized and honoured on the waterfront.
During the First World War minesweepers were built for the French navy at Canadian Car and Foundry. Between 1911 and 1993 dozens of ships were produced by the Port Arthur
Shipbuilding Company, including HMCS Fort William and HMCS Port Arthur, both of which saw action in the Second World War.
“To get this model here on display for the people is a nice tribute to the people who came before us as well,” Hobbs said.
MV Thunder Bay is capable of hauling 34,490 tonnes of cargo, but was designed to be fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly.
It made its maiden visit to Thunder Bay this past Sept. 27.
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