Port of Montreal

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Port of Montreal
Port de Montréal
Port of Montreal logo.svg
LocationMontreal, Quebec
Contrecœur, Quebec
Coordinates45°32′49″N 73°31′48″W / 45.547°N 73.530°W / 45.547; -73.530Coordinates: 45°32′49″N 73°31′48″W / 45.547°N 73.530°W / 45.547; -73.530
OpenedMontreal Port Authority (1999)
Montreal Port Corporation (1983)
National Harbours Board (1936)
Harbour Commission (1830)
Operated byMontreal Port Authority
Owned byGovernment of Canada
Land area6.35 km2 (2.45 sq mi) (Montreal)
4.67 km2 (1.80 sq mi) (Contrecœur)[2]
No. of berths82 [3]
Draft depth11 m (36 ft)[3]
ChairmanMichel M. Lessard
President & CEOMartin Imbleau
Vessel arrivals2,738 (2018)
Annual cargo tonnage40.500 million metric tons (2019)[4]
Annual container volume1.74 million TEUs (2019)[5]
Passenger traffic127,041 (2018)[5]
Annual revenueC$106.7 million (2016)[5]
Net incomeDecreaseC$23.5 million (2016)[5]

The Port of Montreal (French: Port de Montréal) (ACI Canadian Port Code: 0395,[6][7] UN/LOCODE: CA MTR)[8][9] is a cruise and transshipment point located on the St. Lawrence River in Montreal, Québec, Canada. The port operates as an international container port where it services Toronto and the rest of Central Canada, the Midwestern United States, and the Northeastern United States.[10] Though found on the Saint Lawrence Seaway and some 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) inland from the Atlantic Ocean, it is the shortest direct route between Europe and the Mediterranean, with the North American Midwest.

In 2019, more than 2,000 cargo ships visited with the port handling 40,500,000[4] metric tonnes of consumer goods, machinery, cereal, sugar, petroleum products, and other types of cargo. Montreal also welcomes cruise ships. The port is operated by the Montreal Port Authority.


Loading sacks of grain on ship, about 1920.

The port originated in the historic area now known as the Old Port of Montreal.[11] Over the years, the Port of Montreal expanded eastward along the waterfront. In 1978, the Port of Montreal ceded the area now known as the Old Port to the Old Port of Montreal Corporation, a public corporation responsible for developing tourism and recreational activities in the area. The site is now a cultural gem and a major tourist attraction, having been enhanced with museums, restaurants, shops and water-related activities. Today, most Port of Montreal facilities are located downstream from the Old Port. The Montreal Port Authority's head office and the multipurpose Bickerdike Terminal are located upstream from the Old Port.


Old Port of Montreal circa 1899.

Starting from the first authority:[12]

  • 1830: The first Harbour Commission is created. It built the first permanent wharves and pressed the government to dredge the river.
  • 1830–1832: 1,143 metres (3,750 ft) of docks are built.
  • 1840: The Gold-Headed Cane tradition begins, giving a cane to the captain of the first vessel to reach the port in the year.
  • 1854: The navigation channel between Quebec City and Montreal is deepened to 4.88 metres (16.0 ft) and widened to 76.19 metres (250 ft).
  • 1872: Archives for May 28 note that "there were 70 vessels—21 of them ocean-going steamships—docked at different berths, representing a total of 53,769 tonnes (59,270 short tons; 52,920 long tons)."
  • 1883: Channel is dredged to 7.5 metres (25 ft).
  • 1902: Start of construction of modern grain elevators in the port.
  • 1908: First permanent transit sheds constructed.
  • 1910: Project to deepen the channel to 10.7 metres (35 ft) began.
  • 1936: The federal government creates the National Harbours Board.
  • 1947: More than 25 steamship lines serve the port for seven and a half months of the year.
  • 1962: The federal government decides to use icebreakers to keep the channel open between Montreal and Quebec City during winter.
  • 1964: Year-round navigation begins in Montreal. In 1962, the Canadian Coast Guard began to use icebreakers to keep the St. Lawrence navigation channel open, first and foremost as an environmental measure designed to protect riverside communities from spring floods caused by ice jams.[13] Year-round navigation to and from the port began in 1964.
  • 1967: The port handles its first container.
  • 1968: Canada's first container terminal is inaugurated in Montreal.
  • 1972: Construction begins on Cast container terminal.
  • 1977: The port handles its one-millionth TEU container.
Crane and shipping containers in Racine Terminal.
  • 1978: The port builds Racine container terminal and expands its operations in Montreal's east end.
  • 1983: The Montreal Port Corporation is established.
  • 1987: Maisonneuve container terminal (Termont) opens.
  • 1992: Maximum draught is increased to 11 metres (36 ft).
  • 1996: Three brand-new vessels, capable of carrying 2,300 TEU containers each, are christened in Montreal.
  • 1998: Two shipping lines take delivery of three ships capable of transporting 2,800 TEU containers or the equivalent.
  • 1999: Under the Canada Marine Act, the Montreal Port Corporation becomes the more autonomous Montreal Port Authority.
  • 2000: The Port of Montreal handles more than 1 million TEU containers a year for the first time in its history.
  • 2006: The port reaches a new milestone by handling more than 25 million tonnes of cargo.
  • 2008: Electronic navigation system is implemented from Montreal to the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
  • 2011: The port opens a new common entry portal for trucks, transfers the management of its grain terminal operations to Viterra Inc., and reaches a new milestone by handling more than 28 million tonnes of cargo.
  • 2020: A series of labour disputes shut down the Port as part of the 2020 Port of Montreal strike.


Maritime and port activity in Montreal supports some 18,280 jobs and provides $1.5 billion in economic benefits to the Canadian economy (Secor study, 2008).[2]

The three levels of government recognize the importance of the Port of Montreal to the economy and are supporting the port on various projects. For example, the Province of Québec announced in May 2013 the signature of a collaborative framework with the City of Montreal for the extension of a thoroughfare that will link with port facilities.[14] The province also announced the construction of an exit ramp from a major highway that will allow trucks to directly reach the port, and the reconfiguration of an entrance ramp on the same highway that will provide trucks leaving the port with direct access to the highway network. The two projects will improve truck access at the Port of Montreal.

The federal government announced in March 2012 that it would contribute up to $15.1 million toward two projects that will increase the port's container-handling capacity.[15] At the same time it announced a subsidy of $500,000 toward the second phase of an electronic navigation project in the St. Lawrence River channel between Quebec City and Montreal.

The Port of Montreal was behind the creation of the Logistics and Transportation Metropolitan Cluster of Montreal, or Cargo Montreal, an initiative that will help consolidate Montreal as a centre for goods transportation.[16] The project is supported by the Metropolitan Community and its activities are financially supported by Québec's Finance and Economy Ministry, Executive Council Ministry, the Montreal Metropolitan Community and all Cargo Montreal members, while Transport Canada is a participant.


Export areas[edit]

The port serves many diversified markets within North America. In 2012, 74.1% of the port's containerized cargo traffic was destined for or came from the Canadian market, mainly Québec (34.7%), Ontario (26.9%) and Western Canada (9.1%). The other 25.9% of containerized cargo traffic was destined for or came from the United States, mainly the Midwest (18.4%), and as a result, the port is a major source of truck traffic for Ontario's Highway 401.[17]

The port has appointed representatives in the U.S., Europe and Asia to promote its advantages in those markets.[18]

Import areas[edit]

In 2012, Northern Europe was the point of origin or final destination for 46.8% of the containers moving through the port, followed by the Mediterranean (19%), Asia (13.7%), the Middle East (7.4%), Latin America (5.9%) and Africa/Oceania (4.0%). Domestic cargo accounted for 3.2% of the port's containerized cargo traffic. The port continues to benefit from traffic moving through the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal thanks to the direct services that shipping lines provide between Montreal and transhipment ports in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.[19]

Port territory[edit]

Ship passing under wires heading to the Port of Montreal

On the island of Montreal, port territory stretches along 26 kilometres (16 mi) of the waterfront from the Victoria Bridge at the upstream end of the port to Pointe-aux-Trembles at the downstream end of the port.[2]

The port also has a terminal at Contrecoeur, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River about 40 kilometres (25 mi) downstream from Montreal. The port owns land along four kilometres (2.5 mi) of the waterfront at Contrecoeur. This land will be used to increase the port's container-handling capacity once its land on the island of Montreal reaches full capacity.[19]


The Port of Montreal is a founding member of Green Marine, a voluntary environmental program for the maritime industry in Canada and the United States. Green Marine addresses environmental issues such as greenhouse gases, cargo residues, conflict of use (noise, dust, odours, luminous pollution), water and soil pollution prevention, and environmental leadership. In Green Marine's most recent progress report, on a scale of 1 to 5, where Level 5 corresponds to the highest performance rating possible, the Port of Montreal scored Level 4 for its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and Level 5 for its efforts to reduce conflict of use and for its environmental leadership.[20]

Under its locomotive replacement program, the port has purchased four multiple-generator – or GenSet – locomotives.[21] GenSet technology reduces fuel consumption by about 50% and greenhouse gas emissions by 90% compared to traditional locomotives.

The Montreal Port Authority manages the Boucherville Islands Archipelago, which is located at the downstream end of the port. The port authority is completing work to provide fish with spawning areas at several islands of the archipelago as part of an agreement with the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Fish Habitat Management Branch.[22] The Coastal Fisheries Protection Act calls for the creation or improvement of habitant banks as compensation for the impact of development projects, such as the development of berths, on the environment.

Port infrastructure and characteristics[edit]

The Port of Montreal and the shipping channel between Montreal and Quebec City has a draft depth of 11.3 metres (37 ft)[23] and is capable of handling neopanamax container ships of up to 6,000 TEUs.[24]


Port Montreal


Container ships are completely unloaded and loaded. Container shipping lines calling the port include CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company and OOCL.[25]

The port has three international container terminals. Montreal Gateway Terminals Partnership operates two of the terminals and Termont Montreal Inc. operates the other. Empire Stevedoring Co. Ltd. operates a terminal that handles domestic containers. These facilities cover an area of approximately 90 hectares (36 acres) and have 15 dockside gantry cranes with lifting capacities ranging from 40 to 65 tonnes, yard gantry cranes and other container-handling equipment.


The port signed an agreement in 2011 with Viterra Inc., to lease and operate the port's grain terminal.[26] Total grain traffic through the port increased by 76.3% to 3,070,054 tonnes in 2012, the first full year of operation of the grain terminal under Viterra.[19] The grain terminal is a combined loading and unloading facility that has a total storage capacity of 260,000 tonnes.

Dry bulk (other than grain)[edit]

Iron ore, salt, fertilizers, copper ore, raw sugar and gypsum are among the major commodities handled. Logistec Stevedoring Inc. operates the port's dry bulk facilities.

Liquid bulk[edit]

Tanks at the Norcan Oil Terminal.

Six petroleum companies: Canterm Canadian Terminals Inc., Shell Canada Products, Suncor Energy, Terminal Montréal Est, Terminal Norcan Inc. and Ultramar Ltd. handle petroleum products at port facilities. Two companies Vopak Terminals Canada Inc. and Lallemand Inc. move other liquid bulk products.

Passenger cruise and Leisure[edit]

The port authority directly operates a cruise passenger terminal, the port's Iberville Passenger Terminal. It welcomed 127,087 passengers and crew members in 2018.[27]


The port authority provides facilities to shipping lines and land carriers, to terminal operators and to freight transport. It builds and maintains infrastructures that it leases to private stevedoring companies.

The port also has its own railway network, which includes more than 100 kilometres (62 mi) of track with direct access to almost every berth and further provides transcontinental railways through signed agreements with Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) to improve supply chain efficiency for container traffic throughout North America.[28][29]


The Montreal Port Authority operates the Port of Montreal and is a member of: the Association of Canadian Port Authorities (CPA),[30] the American Association of Port Authorities,[31] and the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH).[32] The port authority is an autonomous self-financing federal agency created under the terms of the Canada Marine Act.[33]

The port authority's board of directors is composed of seven business people from the Montreal area. Each of three levels of government – federal, provincial and municipal – names a director. The federal transport minister, on the recommendation of port users, names the remaining four directors.[34] The board elects its own chairman.[35] As of 2016 the Port Authority had 237 employees, total revenue from operations was $106.7 million and its net earnings totalled $23.5 million.[5]

International seaports agreements[edit]


The Port of Montreal has won numerous awards for its work in communications, the cruise sector, infrastructure and management.

The port won three awards in the American Association of Port Authorities’ (AAPA) 2013 Communications Competition.[39] The port won an Award of Excellence for its new website, an Award of Distinction for its PortInfo electronic magazine, and an Award of Merit for its new branding campaign “Trading with the World.”

The port also won the International Association of Ports and Harbors’ (IAPH) bronze 2013 Port Communications Award.[40] The prize recognizes a project that provides free Wi-Fi on Port of Montreal territory to seafarers whose ships are docked in port. The service allows mariners to connect more easily with family and friends back home.

In the cruise sector, the port won an award for its cruise operations from Cruise Insight magazine for a fifth consecutive year in 2013.[41] It won the Most Efficient Port Services award, which recognizes the port's combination of port agency and customs services and its working relationship with cruise line operations departments.

In 2012, the port won four Cruise Insight awards of excellence: Most Responsive Port, Best Turnaround Destination, Most Efficient Terminal Operator and Best Turnaround Port Operations.[42]

In 2011, the port won awards as Most Efficient Terminal Operator and Best Turnaround Destination.,[43] and in 2010 it won Best Turnaround Port Operations and Best Turnaround Destination.[44]

Also in 2011, the port won the Grand Prize for Excellence in the Cargo Transportation category from Québec's road transportation association, the Association québécoise du transport et des routes, for the successful completion of its new entry portal for trucks on port territory.[45]

In 2012, port president and CEO Sylvie Vachon received the Prix Orchidée from the East Montreal Chamber of Commerce. The award honours a VIP who makes both a commitment and an outstanding contribution to East Montreal's economic and social development.[46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "UNLOCODE (CA) - CANADA". www.unece.org. UNECE. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "The Port of Montreal in Brief" (PDF). Port of Montreal. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Port of Montreal, Canada". www.findaport.com. Shipping Guides Ltd. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  4. ^ a b "@PortMTL 2019 was the 6th consecutive record year for the #PortMTL , which for the first time in its history exceeded 40 million tonnes of cargo handled ! #growth #GoldHeadedCane #maritime". Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Statistics". Retrieved January 30, 2020.
  6. ^ Corporate Applications / Corporate Systems Division / Solutions Directorate / Information, Science & Technology Branch / Canada Border Services Agency (2013-05-17). "Directory of CBSA Offices and Services, Montreal". www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca. Retrieved 2022-12-22.
  7. ^ "Page International, Inc". Retrieved 2022-12-22.
  8. ^ "Port of Montreal". World Port Source. Retrieved 2022-12-22.
  9. ^ "Port of MONTREAL (CA MTR) details - Departures, Expected Arrivals and Port Calls | AIS MarineTraffic". MarineTraffic.com. Retrieved 2022-12-22.
  10. ^ "Port Facts". Association of Canadian Port Authorities. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  11. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Port of Montreal. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  12. ^ "The Port Then and Now". Port of Montreal. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  13. ^ "The Beginning of Winter Navigation Above Quebec City". Corporation of Central St. Lawrence Pilots. Archived from the original on July 22, 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  14. ^ "Projects Improving Port of Montreal Truck Access". Maritime Magazine. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  15. ^ "Harper Government Announces Job-Creating Investments for the Port of Montreal and the St. Lawrence". Transport Canada. Archived from the original on June 28, 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  16. ^ "Cargo Montreal Launched". Canadian Sailings. 21 February 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  17. ^ "2012 Annual Report" (PDF). Port of Montreal. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  18. ^ "Trading with the World". Canadian Sailings. 21 February 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  19. ^ a b c "Port of Montreal Continues to Reinvent Itself". Canadian Sailings. 21 February 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
  20. ^ "Green Marine 2012 Progress Report" (PDF). Green Marine. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 7, 2013. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  21. ^ "Port's Railway Network Goes Green". Canadian Sailings. 27 February 2012. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  22. ^ "Fish for the Islands". Port of Montreal. Archived from the original on July 22, 2013. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  23. ^ "Opinion: Bigger container ships mean challenges for the port of Montreal".
  24. ^ "Post-Panamax-type ships now sailing to Montreal". 2 April 2014.
  25. ^ "World Maritime Merchant". Port of Montreal. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  26. ^ "Viterra, Port of Montreal Reach Agreement for Grain Terminal". Canadian Sailings. Archived from the original on August 16, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  27. ^ "2018 Annual Report" (PDF). Port of Montreal. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  28. ^ "Canadian Pacific and Montreal Port Authority Sign Productivity and Performance Agreement". Canadian Pacific. Archived from the original on March 12, 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  29. ^ "CN and Montreal Port Authority Reach Framework Agreement to Increase Gateway Productivity and Market Share". Canadian National. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  30. ^ Corporate Members, Association of Canadian Port Authorities
  31. ^ Corporate Members - Canadian Ports, American Association of Port Authorities
  32. ^ IAPH Member Ports, Int'l Assoc. of Ports and Harbors
  33. ^ "Montreal Port Authority". Port of Montreal. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  34. ^ "Governor in Council Appointments". Government of Canada. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  35. ^ "Board and Management Committee". Port of Montreal. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  36. ^ Staff writer (November 4, 2021). "The Port of Antwerp and the Port of Montreal pledge to create a green shipping corridor" (Press release). Port of Antwerp-Bruges. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  37. ^ Staff writer (November 27, 2020). "Five-year Cooperation Agreement signed between the Port of Marseille Fos and the Port of Montreal" (Press release). Cision Canada. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  38. ^ Staff writer (February 13, 2018). "Montreal and Mundra sign MOU". MEDIA / NEWSROOM. 4AllPorts and 4C Offshore group. Retrieved May 24, 2020. On a trade mission to India, the Montreal Port Authority (MPA) has signed a Cooperative Agreement with Mundra Port, Gujarat State, north of Mumbai. This agreement aims to develop cooperation in marketing and business development while sharing information on marine operations and industry best practices.
  39. ^ "AAPA 2013 Communications Awards Winners". American Association of Port Authorities. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  40. ^ "Port of Montreal Wins International Award". ITF Seafarers' Trust Blog. Archived from the original on July 22, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
  41. ^ "Port of Montreal Wins Fifth Consecutive Cruise Insight Award". Cruise Forward. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
  42. ^ "Port of Montreal Receives Four More Awards of Excellence for its Cruise Operations". Maritime Magazine. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
  43. ^ "Port of Montreal Receives Two More Awards of Excellence for its Cruise Operations" (PDF). Port of Montreal. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
  44. ^ "Cruise Activities Receive Two Awards of Excellence" (PDF). Port of Montreal. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
  45. ^ "New Entry Portal for Trucks Honoured at AQTR Gala" (PDF). Port of Montreal. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
  46. ^ "Sylvie Vachon Awarded Prix Orchidée" (PDF). Port of Montreal. Retrieved July 13, 2013.

External links[edit]