Grain Shipping: An Important Part of Thunder Bay’s History
Posted on: October 1, 2017

Richardson International Limited owns two grain elevators in Thunder Bay, Ontario, one of which will soon be marking 100 years of operation.

PHOTO: Richardson’s International facilities in Thunder Bay. 

Helping to move grain from the Canadian prairies to locations around the world, the Thunder Bay grain elevators operated by Richardson’s employ approximately 100 people. Based in Winnipeg, the company also takes a keen interest in the community of Thunder Bay. Richardson’s has had a representative on the Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan (RAP), or harbour cleanup plan, for many years.

While there aren’t as many grain elevators as there once were, Thunder Bay still has the largest grain storage capacity in North America and hundreds of thousands of tonness of wheat, canola, soybeans, flax and oats are stored in  silos before being shipped.

In 2014, Richardsons announced that it had more than doubled its capacity in the Port of Thunder Bay by purchasing and re-opening the “Current River Terminal”, formerly part of Viterra Inc. and located near Richardson’s  original “Heritage Terminal”. The Viterra elevator had not been used in three years and required cleanup and repairs. Both terminals are nearby one another on the Current River section of the waterfront.

The Current River Terminal has a storage capacity of 235,000 tonnes, while the Heritage Terminal holds 208,000 tonnes. This makes for a combined storage capacity of 443,000 tonnes.

Shipping has been the backbone of the Thunder Bay economy from the early days of the fur trade to the building of the railway, and beyond. During the late-1970s and 1980s the Port of Thunder Bay was the busiest it had ever been thanks in large part to grain shipments to the former USSR. Presently, the eight grain elevators along the Thunder Bay waterfront are able to store more than 1.2 million tonnes of grain, in particular wheat, and supply it to such fast growing markets as the Middle East and Africa.

More information about the economic impact of the Port of Thunder Bay … 

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