Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay port to celebrate early arrival of lakers and salties

This year's mild winter means an early start to the shipping season in Thunder Bay, on Lake Superior.

Going against the grain? Mild winter means ships arrive early for fill-ups

Ships that spent the winter in Thunder Bay are starting to pick up grain. (Rochelle Smith/Marinetraffic.com)

This year's mild winter means an early start to the shipping season in Thunder Bay, on Lake Superior.

Port Authority CEO Tim Heney says ships that spent the winter in Thunder Bay are starting to pick up grain. He says the first laker to arrive at the port is expected on Saturday and the first ocean-going ship is expected on Monday.

If the salty comes into port as expected, it will be a notable event, he said.

"If that's the case, then that will be our earliest ocean vessel in Thunder Bay, and we'll set a new record for that."
Tim Heney, CEO, Thunder Bay Port Authority (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

The planned arrival of the laker on Saturday won't be a record for the earliest arrival of that type of freighter in Thunder Bay, but according to Heney, it will be "close to it."

Top hat ceremonies are planned for both ships when they arrive.

Heney said it's difficult at this point to predict what kind of shipping season it will be — but one piece of good news is that more grain is being stored on the prairies than at this time last year.

"It should be a strong start to the season," he said, but added the harvest in the fall will determine how the season unfolds. 

Ice breaking in Thunder Bay harbour started in mid-March, which is in stark contrast to 2015 when ice breaking was still taking place in April.

with files from Matt Prokopchuk

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