Almost four years after ordering them, CWB has taken delivery of the first of two ships for moving grain from Thunder Bay across the Great Lakes.
CWB Marquis, an Equinox class laker, is currently crossing the Pacific Ocean from China, and is expected to reach the St. Lawrence Seaway via the Panama Canal by the end of December.
The lakers were purchased for an estimated $65 million in February of 2011 — just months before the federal government introduced legislation that eventually ended the Canadian Wheat Board’s grain marketing monopoly in Western Canada.
CWB says it named the vessel after the first wheat variety bred specifically for the short Canadian growing season.
“Marquis wheat has a long and distinguished history on the Prairies and we are proud to name CWB’s first laker vessel in honour of its legacy,” said CWB president and CEO Ian White in a press release. “Almost every variety of wheat grown on the Prairies since the beginning of the 20th century can be traced back to Marquis wheat.”
The second CWB laker is supposed to be completed in early 2015. Algoma Central Corporation will operate both vessels, shipping grain east from Thunder Bay and iron ore from seaports back into the Great Lakes.
CWB is currently in the process of finding an outside investor to replace the federal government, as federal legislation requires that the former Wheat Board privatize by 2017. CWB acquired port capacity at Thunder Bay and along the St. Lawrence shipping corridor a year ago with the purchase of Mission Terminal and Les Élévateurs des Trois-Rivières.