Northumberland Ferries Limited

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Northumberland Ferries Limited
Industry Shipping
Founded 1941
Headquarters Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Area served Northumberland Strait
Key people Mark MacDonald, President & CEO
Services Passenger transportation
Freight transportation
Parent NFL Holdings Ltd
Website www.peiferry.com

Northumberland Ferries Limited (NFL) is a ferry company operating in eastern Canada and headquartered in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. NFL is also the owner of subsidiaries Bay Ferries Limited and Bay Ferries Great Lakes Limited through its holding company.

Wood Islands–Caribou Ferry[edit]

MV Confederation has been operated by NFL across the Northumberland Strait between Caribou and Wood Islands since 1993.
MV Holiday Island in the Northumberland Strait, Pictou Island in background.

NFL has operated the ferry service that carries the Trans-Canada Highway across the eastern part of the Northumberland Strait between Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island and Caribou, Nova Scotia since it was established in 1941 by the Government of Canada. This service is seasonal and only operates between the months of May and December on account of heavy sea ice and the lack of icebreaking ferries.

NFL currently operates two vessels owned by the Government of Canada: Confederation built in 1993, and Holiday Island built in 1971. While Confederation has been operated exclusively by NFL since she was built, Holiday Island joined NFL in 1997 after being declared surplus by previous operator Marine Atlantic who operated the vessel between Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick and Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island upon completion of the Confederation Bridge. NFL also operates the ferry terminals in Wood Islands and Caribou, both of which are owned by the Government of Canada.

Fares are paid only when exiting Prince Edward Island; the round-trip fares (Effective 1 May 2014)[1] will be C$69.00 for automobiles, $40.00 for motorcycles, $20.00 for bicycles, $18.00 for adult passengers (13–59 years of age) and $16 for seniors (60+). Children under 12 years of age receive free passage.

The other major Northumberland Strait crossing, the Confederation Bridge from Prince Edward Island to New Brunswick, currently charges its C$44.25 per car toll only when exiting Prince Edward Island as well. Therefore, travellers entering the island on the ferry and exiting on the bridge or vice versa only need pay for one of the links.

As an interprovincial ferry service, the route qualifies for a federal subsidy which is provided to NFL to offset losses in return for operating the vessels and terminals. This subsidy was fully renewed for 5 years in March 2005.

Transport Canada had initially proposed a reduction in funding to permit operation between the months of May and October only, and after 2008 the service was to be reduced to only one vessel. The proposed service changes raised protests in both Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia by residents and politicians, forcing the federal government to maintain the status quo until March 2010.

In December 2009 it was reported that Transport Canada was considering only renewing the subsidy for 1 year to cover the 2010 operating season, after which it had been speculated that the federal government would reduce or eliminate the operating subsidy for future years. This would have likely resulted in the retirement of the MV Holiday Island and the reduction to a 1-vessel service from July–September, or possibly the complete abandonment of the ferry service after 2011. Residents of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island lobbied federal and local politicians and bureaucrats to see the 2-vessel May–December service maintained and enhanced as an alternative to the Confederation Bridge in the event of a disaster forcing closure of the span.

Currently, the federal government has committed to maintaining an operating subsidy until at least 2016, with some funding specifically directed at modernizing mechanical systems on the Holiday Island.[2][3]

Former ferries[edit]

List of ferries formerly operated by NFL:

  • MV Prince Nova (1941-1958), formerly MV Erie Isle where she operated on Lake Erie from Leamington, Ontario to Pelee Island. She was purchased by NFL and entered service in 1941, serving until 1958 with arrival of MV Lord Selkirk. Laid up in Pictou where she caught fire and burnt at wharf later that year. Scrapped on site.
  • SS Charles A. Dunning (1941, 1946-1964), formerly SS Sankaty where she operated in Massachusetts and Maine. She was purchased by NFL but before entering service was requisitioned for service in the Royal Canadian Navy for minelaying duty as HMCS Sankaty. Returned to NFL in 1946, serving until 1964 with arrival of MV Prince Nova. Sold for scrap but sank en route to Sydney.
  • MV Lord Selkirk (1958-1993), built for Government of Canada by Ferguson Industries, Pictou in 1958, serving until 1993 with arrival of MV Confederation. Sold to company in Panama. Used in Chiriqui Grande in Panama up to the moment the road was built. At present lying at anchor at Chiriqui Grande in poor condition (July 2014).


  • MV Prince Nova (1963-1997), built for Government of Canada by Ferguson Industries, Pictou in 1963, serving until 1997 with arrival of MV Holiday Island. Sold to Cross Sound Ferry, New London in 1998, refitted and renamed the MV Susan Anne for service across Long Island Sound. Currently operating.
  • MV Prince Edward (1972-1997), built for the Government of Canada by Ferguson Industries, Pictou in 1972, serving until 1997 with arrival of MV Holiday Island. Sold to Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1997, refitted and renamed the MV Captain Earl W. Windsor for service to Fogo Island and the Change Islands. Currently operating.

References[edit]