Creating a new way to serve global markets by water
Perched on the St. Lawrence Seaway, the port at Baie Comeau unlocks new opportunities—now Cargill can serve markets by land and by sea.
In 1954, Canada and the US announced their commitment to deepen and extend the St. Lawrence Seaway by 1959. Improving the broad channel, which divides southern Quebec and upstate New York along its main stretch, would dramatically improve transportation throughout the Great Lakes and onward into the North Atlantic Ocean.
Seeking new ways to serve global markets, Cargill’s president, John MacMillan, Jr., was inspired by the news. As previous decades were defined by grain elevators along American railroads, the years to come would focus on developing ports along international waterways.
With the St. Lawrence Seaway as a new transportation route, John Jr. made the company’s largest capital investment to date, building an ocean terminal at Baie Comeau on the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. Several sites had been considered, but he ultimately gravitated to Baie Comeau for its accessible location, existing port infrastructure and proximity to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. While other areas of the Seaway froze during winter’s deep chill, the waters at Baie Comeau did not—granting Cargill unique, year-round access to the Atlantic.
Bushels are unloaded from barges (1), scaled and fed into storage silos (2-3). Grain is then inspected (4), and scaled for ocean-bound ships (5-6).
Today, it remains Cargill’s largest transfer terminal in North America, featuring a 13 million-bushel elevator and the capacity to hold 440,000 metric tons of grain. Building at Baie Comeau was just one of Cargill’s initiatives to meet the growing international demand for US commodities. With newfound access to the Atlantic, high-quality grains became accessible to underserved and undernourished regions around the globe.
The expansion of the St. Lawrence Seaway dramatically improves the route for commodities leaving the Great Lakes region, drastically cutting shipping costs.
Source: Cargill, 150 years of helping the world thrive, cargill-150.com