Thunder Bay Port News
Posted on: August 5, 2017

Exciting things are afloat at Pool 6 in the port of Thunder Bay, ON. In case you’ve missed CBC’s recent scoops, we’ve compiled them for you here.

Breaking the Ice: Alexander Henry Greets Pool 6

In early August, CBC reported that the Alexander Henry found a new home at Pool 6 in the Thunder Bay harbour. Though the icebreaking vessel has been lounging in Thunder Bay’s port since journeying from Kingston in June, it was granted permission to move to Port 6. Thunder Bay Port Authority will negotiate a lease with Thunder Bay City Council, giving it a chance to return home permanently.

The Alexander Henry was built by the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company after being commissioned in 1959. It worked the Great Lakes for almost three decades, until the mid-1980s. It was replaced by the Samuel Risley, which is still in operation.

photo credit: Bill Burd, via CBC

Since its retirement, the Henry has been residing at the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes in Kingston. When the museum lost its space, the Lakehead Transportation Museum Society approached city council in December 2016 to purchase the Henry. They pitched it as a tourist attraction, and council provided $125,000 needed for the tow between ports. Since June, the ship has resided at a private dock, but will relocate to Pool 6 when the city and port authority are done negotiating.

Charlie Brown, president of the LTMS, expressed his enthusiasm to CBC.

“We’re ecstatic,” said Charlie Brown, president of the Lakehead Transportation Museum Society (LTMS). “We’re thrilled — it couldn’t be any better.”

“I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that we can get it up and running early in September,” he said. “We’re looking at holding a big grand opening for the public.”

The ship will likely remain at the private dock until negotiations are completed. In the mean time, Brown says that maintenance and cleanup work will need to be done at Pool 6, including bringing in fencing, wiring electrical hookups, and landscaping, among others. Stay tuned to CBC and local news outlets for announcements on the grand opening.

Ahoy to Cruise Ships in 2018

For the first time in six years, CBC reports a cruise ship is scheduled to visit Thunder Bay port’s Pool 6. Paul Pepe, the City of Thunder Bay’s tourism manager, announced that the Victory II (owned by Victory Cruise Lines), will be hosted in Thunder Bay in late July 2018. It will be the first turnaround cruise ship the city has ever hosted. A turnaround vessel finishes a voyage and then starts another from the same port. The route will run from Chicago to Thunder Bay, and back.

The Victory II, owned by Victory Cruise Lines. photo credit: Victory Cruise Lines

Pepe pointed out that a turnaround voyage offers economic benefit to the city. He noted that passengers who are either finishing or embarking on a cruise usually stay an extra night in the city, fly through Thunder Bay’s airport, and both the ship will need stock up on supplies when it docks. Presumably, they’d also patronize businesses in downtown Port Arthur, which is close to the port.

The Victory II is newly-commissioned, reportedly hosting 220 passengers and 70 crew. It is a sister ship to the Victory I, in service since 2001. Cruise industry on Lake Superior is relatively limited due to logistical issues in crossing the Canada-U.S. Border running through the middle of the Great Lakes, and limited capacity in locks that dot the St. Lawrence Seaway. Pepe told CBC that

“There’s not a lot of cruise ships that are [St. Lawrence Seaway] compliant, in the sense that they they can fit through the locks, they don’t have any protrusions,” he said. “A lot of the big cruise ships that people are familiar with, they have life boats that protrude, they have bridge wings that protrude, and those things can not go through the seaway safely.”

Pepe does mention, however, that Great Lakes cruise tourism is growing, with “record numbers” of vessels in the lower Great Lakes, and a spate of new seaway-compliant vessels being built to service growing demand.

Further Reading:

“Cruise ships returning to Thunder Bay port” CBC Thunder Bay, July 28, 2017.

“Alexander Henry finds a home at Pool 6” CBC Thunder Bay, Aug 2, 2017. 

Victory Cruise Lines – announcement on the Victory II and information on cruise vacations

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