The history of Montreal and its port have long been intertwined. Indeed, the city rose in great part thanks to the development of its port.
Starting with the establishment of Ville Marie in 1642 and for almost the next two centuries, Montreal’s port mainly served flatboats, canoes and barges used in the booming fur trade. French sailboats, then English, supplied the colony.
But Montreal really began to gain prominence as a port city at the beginning of the 19th century with the arrival of the steamship. The development of the Lachine Canal and the presence of port facilities in what is known today as the Old Port of Montreal were at the heart of industrialization in Canada.
“I firmly believe that the relationship between a port and its city is a key element in each other’s success,” said Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority (MPA). “The Port of Montreal is a cornerstone of the foundation of our city. The winning port-city relationship that we so thoroughly enjoy here in Montreal has been at the heart of our operations since our founding and will continue to play a pivotal role in the city’s future.”
In this regard, the Port of Montreal looks forward to participating in festivities that will commemorate three important historical events in 2017:
• the 375th anniversary of Montreal;
• the 150th anniversary of Confederation; and
• the 50th anniversary of the Universal Exposition, or Expo 67, in Montreal.
The Port of Montreal’s current Cité du Havre administration building served as the headquarters for the organizers of Expo 67. And its Iberville Passenger Terminal, located on Alexandra Pier, was inaugurated in 1967, as part of Expo 67 activities. It is also worth noting that 1967 was the year in which the Port of Montreal handled its very first container. Today, Montreal is among the top 100 container ports in the world, handling 1.45 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit containers) in 2015.
The Port’s main contribution to 2017 festivities will be a new state-of-the art cruise terminal.
The MPA began work last November for the extensive restoration of Alexandra Pier, built in 1901, and the Iberville Passenger Terminal.
In addition to providing cruise passengers with the first-class welcome for which Montreal is known, the restoration project will help integrate the terminal and the pier into the urban fabric of Old Montreal more seamlessly and meet the expectations of citizens who seek better access to their river.
The new facility will include a world-class passenger terminal, a green roof and other open spaces accessible to the public, an interactive port interpretation centre, a re-designed parking area, a lowered pier facilitating water access, and an observation tower.
“The future Alexandra Pier will be an exceptionally welcoming site that will allow people to feel a sense of pride in their port,” Ms. Vachon said. “Our objective is to give Montrealers and visitors a new terminal in 2017 to coincide with the City of Montreal’s 375th anniversary.”
The Port will also host the annual Canada-New England Cruise Symposium in 2017.
Moreover, the Port has planned hundreds of millions of dollars worth of other investments in projects to optimize cargo-handling capability well into the future.
“The Port of Montreal is clearly a major investment vehicle for the region,” Ms. Vachon said. “The economic role that we assume goes hand in hand with our desire to act responsibly and sustainably, and to cohabitate in a harmonious fashion with the community in which we live.
“It is essential for us to have the capacity to balance and assume these complementary roles as the Port will still be here 100 years from now! All of this is so important for our sustainable development and our continuous integration into the city.
“We look forward with great pleasure to contributing to festivities in 2017.”