Capt. Alwyn (Al) Soppitt had a 30 year career with Saint John Port Authority from which he retired in June of 2011. His leadership within the local Port community started in 1981 when he joined the Port as Assistant Harbour Master; eight years later he was promoted to Harbour Master (1989).

Captain Alwyn (Al) SoppittIn 1996 Al took on a new challenge when he was promoted to President and CEO. In this capacity he navigated the Port through the transition from a Crown Corporation to a Canada Port Authority with new legislation introduced by the government in 1998. Over this period of time, the Port experienced many changes in all business sectors, and emerged as a primary port-of-call in the Canada-New England cruise itinerary. In June of 2011, Al retired from Saint John Port Authority after having fulfilled a nine-month period as Special Advisor to assist in the transition from his leadership to that of the new President & CEO, Jim Quinn. In that nine-month period, Al led the review of the Land Use Plan for the Port which was later launched in June 2011; the consultative foundations of this Plan have led to many changes in the public-port interface since his retirement.

Previous to taking a position with the Port, he held management positions with ship agent Kerr Steamships (Canada) Ltd. and Empire Stevedoring Ltd. working in Atlantic Canada, and the St.Lawrence and Great Lakes regions.

Al was very involved in both the marine community and the community at large. During his professional career he served on the Board of the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, was Chair of the Association from 2003 to 2004 and became an honorary life member upon his retirement in 2011.

He has also served as a Board member of the American Association of Port Authorities and as Chair of its Canadian Delegation.

In the last years of his work at the Port he was a founder and chaired the Southern New Brunswick Gateway Council, he was a member of the Board of the North Atlantic Ports Association, and a Director of both the Saint John Board of Trade and Uptown Saint John Inc.

He was a member of the Company of Master Mariners of Canada and of the Saint John Rotary Club.

For many years he was a Director of the Saint John Seafarers Mission which he chaired from the period of his retirement until his passing.

In his private life, he gave 20 years of leadership service to Scouts Canada and received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 in recognition of service to his community.

captain alwyn soppitt pilot boat

Capt. Soppitt was born and raised in Island Magee, Northern Ireland. After working at sea for a period of time, he emigrated to Canada in 1972. Until the time of his passing, he resided in Saint John with his wife, Eugenie. They have two sons in Saint John and one daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren residing in B.C.

Capt. Soppitt passed away on January 1, after having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer shortly after his retirement.

At the request of his family, a memorial service was held at the Marco Polo Cruise Terminal (111 Water Street) in Saint John on January 9.

The family would appreciate donations to Saint John Seafarer’s Mission, one of the charities with which Al was most active.