Inbound from the UK, the OOCL Belgium a 2,808 teu container ship crossed Montreal port’s downstream limits at 00.51 am on January 1, 2010. It then docked at the Racine terminal, which is operated by the Montreal Gateway Terminal Partnership, before departing a few hours later for the return voyage to Liverpool.
The tradition of the gold-headed cane dates to 1840. A spring custom for many years, it became a New Year’s tradition with the inauguration of year-round navigation at the port in 1964.
Montreal, like many ports, was hard hit in 2009 by the global economic crisis. The MPA’s estimates indicate the port experienced declines from 2008 of 17% in container volume (to 1.3m teu) and 12% in total cargo throughput (to 23.8m tonnes).
“The difficulties faced by Canadian and American manufacturing sectors had a major impact on the traffic of containerised cargo and on dry bulk cargo such as iron, zinc and copper,” said Ms. Vachon. “However, thanks to market diversification on our routes to the Mediterranean and Caribbean along with excellent results in grain shipping, we have mitigated the effects of the crisis.”
The MPA says preliminary data for December indicate that the decrease in traffic has stabilised. “This points to a gradual but slow recovery that calls for us to remain cautious,” Ms. Vachon concluded.