First freighter leaves port of Churchill in four years

Canada’s only active port resumes operations

A cargo ship full of grain left the port over the past weekend, port owner Artic Gateway reported. The company described the cargo as “a very important first step in restoring the port of Churchill as an important part of Canada’s position as a leader in agricultural exports to the world”.

According to Canadian Grain Commission data, there were 35,400 tonnes of durum wheat and 11,500 tonnes of lentils stored in Churchill as of September 1.

Arctic Gateway purchased the port and rail lines from the previous owner, OmniTRAX, which ceased operations at the port in 2016. The rail lines essential for transportation had been damaged by floods in 2017 and OmniTRAX had refused to repair the line railroad because of costs. Arctic Gateway is a public-private partnership that includes the Missinippi Rail Limited Partnership, Fairfax Financial Holdings, AGT Limited Partnership and First Nations. AGT is a Regina based company specializing in pulses and staple foods.

The Port of Churchill, on the shores of Hudson Bay, Manitoba, is the only deep-sea Arctic port in Canada. A typical season runs from the end of July to October. The facilities were privatized by the federal government and sold to OmniTRAX in 1997. The port was used primarily to load Canadian grain onto freighters.

Four years after the elimination of the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly in 2012, and 1 year after its acquisition by the company G3 Global Grain Group, in 2015, Omni TRAX stopped the operations of the port due to the fall in traffic rail.