CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

CBC Archives has a new look: Please go to cbc.ca/archives to access the new site.

The page you are looking at will not be updated.

Thunder Bay also suffers in Prairie drought

The Story

It may be a Prairie drought, but the people in Thunder Bay, Ont., seem to be suffering just as badly as the rural Westerners. The Ontario town employs a large number of grain handlers, rail workers and sailors -- all of whom are losing work because of the reduced amount of Prairie grain produced during the drought. In this 1988 radio clip from CBC's Sunday Morning, Thunder Bay residents speak frankly about their financial fears. 

Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Morning
Broadcast Date: July 31, 1988
Guests: Don Caddo, Herbie Danaher, Richard McFarland, Rob Muir, Don Trost
Reporter: Wendy Martin
Duration: 6:50
Photo: Thunder Bay Port Authority

Did You know?

• The Thunder Bay Port is one of the major hubs for shipping Canadian grain. The grain comes from the Prairie provinces by train. It's then loaded onto ships and is transported via the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway to various destinations around the world. According to the Thunder Bay Port Authority, grain typically accounts for about 70 per cent of the port's overall throughput.

• According to a 2003 Northern Ontario Business article, "The highest grain totals to come out of the Thunder Bay port amounted to 17,679,719 in 1983. A decade later it plummeted 8,157,168 million tonnes." The article says drought is only partially to blame though: "Market shifts, internal and external port competition, location, prairie droughts and technological developments in rail have taken chunks out of Thunder Bay port's market share."

• Farm equipment manufacturers and food processing plants are among the other industries across Canada that are directly hurt by Prairie droughts. There's a spinoff effect from that as well: when workers are laid off from those industries across the country, they will be less likely to have disposable income to spend on other services, such as restaurants and shops.

• A 2002 CBC Television report from Saskatoon illustrated how urban restaurants and shops that are close to rural farming areas suffer during drought. "When the rural economy goes down, I think everybody in the city feels it," said the manager of a Saskatoon farm and garden centre. The report also pointed out that microbreweries -- who depend on grain to make their beer -- were especially worried about the impact of the drought.


Devastating Dry Spells: Drought on the Prairies more