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Sylvie Vachon, présidente-directrice générale de l'Administration portuaire de Montréal, et Qin Xiao Fei, commandant du Exeborg.

Press release


Montreal, January 6, 2021 — Montreal Port Authority (MPA) President and CEO Sylvie Vachon was pleased to award the famous Gold-Headed Cane to Captain Qin Xiao Fei, a Chinese national, Master of the Exeborg, the first ocean-going vessel to reach the Port of Montreal without a stopover in 2020. The MPA took the opportunity to announce its preliminary results and highlight a 6th consecutive record year, having passed the historic milestone of 40 million tonnes of cargo handled at the Port of Montreal in 2019.

The Gold-Headed Cane is awarded to Captain Qin Xiao Fei

The Exeborg left the Port of Sauda, Norway, on December 21. It crossed the Port of Montreal’s limits on January 3 at 2:11 a.m. Like every year, awarding the Gold-Headed Cane marks the start of a new year of activity at the Port of Montreal … a Port tradition since 1840!

“In awarding this symbolic and historic cane to Captain Qin, we are expressing our gratitude and appreciation to the men and women who are at the heart of maritime economic activity all over the world,” said Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the MPA.

The Exeborg is a bulk carrier operated by Wagenborg Shipping and represented in Montreal by the Lower St-Lawrence Ocean Agencies Ltd. It docked early Friday morning at berth 42, at the terminal operated by Logistec. The Exeborg will stay there for a few days, the time it takes to unload its cargo: ferromanganese, used for the design and manufacture of high quality, ultra-resistant steel.

In the presence of many representatives of the marine industry and Montreal’s business community, as well as political figures, the MPA also recognized the work of the pilots of the Corporation of Mid St. Lawrence Pilots, Patrick Caron and Éric Godolphin, who safely guided the ship to port.

2019: a sixth consecutive record year at the Port of Montreal

At the ceremony, the MPA released preliminary (unaudited) statistics for 2019.

During the review, it was announced that the Port of Montreal had another record year in 2019 in terms of the total volume of goods handled, the sixth year in a row. For the first time in its history, the Port of Montreal surpassed the 40 million tonne mark in cargo handled, reaching 40.5 million tonnes, up 4.1% over 2018.

A new record was also set on the container front, with a total of 1.75 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) handled and an increase of 4.4% over last year.

The year was also marked by solid results on the bulk front. The dry bulk sector had a 15.9% upswing in tonnage with a total of 9.3 million tonnes. Notably, grain increased by 109%. Liquid bulk remained stable at 16.2 million tonnes.

The cruise sector had more than 100,000 passengers and crew members.

Major projects for the future

The year 2019 was a decisive turning point for several major projects, all aimed at preparing the future for the growth of freight traffic at the Port of Montreal.

Among the turning points, the Contrecœur Terminal project received financial support from Canada Infrastructure Bank with an investment of up to $300 million, confirming the project’s public interest vocation and national scope.

The MPA is also moving forward on planning and carrying out several other infrastructure projects, including:

  • The second phase of work at Viau Terminal, completing terminal construction and increasing container handling capacity by 250,000 TEUs;
  • The Grand Quay’s observation tower, adding a major architectural element to Montreal’s urban landscape;
  • Works to increase rail capacity, contributing to freight traffic fluidity;
  • Redevelopment of Bickerdike Terminal, making it possible to considerably improve this infrastructure that is the main base for supplies to Newfoundland and the Magdalen Islands.

A predictive version of the Trucking PORTal was also launched. This integration of artificial intelligence into port operations will help truck drivers plan their trips even better and improve the flow of traffic on Port territory, thereby reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

A new exhibition has also opened at the Port Centre located at the Port of Montreal’s Grand Quay. Entitled All aboard!, this free exhibition gives the public a better understanding of port activities through fun and interactive activities.

About the Port of Montreal

Operated by the Montreal Port Authority (MPA), the Port of Montreal is the second largest port in Canada and a diversified transshipment centre that handles all types of goods: containerized and non-containerized cargo, liquid bulk and dry bulk. The only container port in Quebec, it is a destination port served by the largest shipping lines in the world. It is also an intermodal hub with a service offering that is unique in North America, featuring its own rail network directly dockside connected to Canada’s two national rail networks. The MPA also operates a Cruise Terminal and a Port Centre.

The MPA factors economic, social and environmental components into its corporate initiatives. This commitment is governed by a sustainable development policy whose guiding principles focus on involvement, cooperation and accountability. Port activity supports 19,000 jobs and generates $2.6 billion in economic benefits annually.

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