" The Saguenay marine facilities:
evolving to reflect our economy and
market globalization "

Within the Canadian and Quebec context, the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, Port Saguenay's closest hinterland, was opened late to colonization. It remained a private reserve for the fur trade until 1838, when logging was successfully established in this territory of abundant natural resources.

Indeed, the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region is a vast subsided plain, a real oasis in the middle of the Laurentian Plateau, its fertile soil and major waterway contributing to large population settlements (today, close to 300,000 people live there) to support the development of the area's natural resources.

Very early on, marine operations focused on overseas exports; thus, exports of wood to England were substantial during the second half of the 19th century.

Then, at the beginning of the 20th century, wood pulp took over with the pulp mill in Chicoutimi, which was for a while the largest mechanical pulp mill in the world.

The combination of natural resources and waterway found another significant role to play with the development of aluminum smelters in the 1920s; the availability of considerable hydroelectric potential, which was easy to develop, as well as the possibility of building a deep-water seaport accessible year round to import raw materials and to export products led to the development of this core industry, which to this day is an important pillar of the regional economy.

The development of Saguenay's public marine facilities has reflected the major structural and cyclical movements affecting the natural resource-based industries in particular:

  • the arrival of the railroad in the late 19th century;
  • the closing of the Chicoutimi pulp mill in the 1920s;
  • the gradual replacement of coal with oil in the 1940s,  which transformed the Chicoutimi Terminal into an oil terminal;
  • from the 1940s on, the gradual repositioning of paper companies on the Canadian and US markets, which increased the use of the railroad. 

Later, in the 1970s, increasing pressures were felt by the port authority to relocate the oil tanks outside downtown Chicoutimi because of the lack of space for development, restrictions in terms of vessel tonnage and incompatibility with a downtown area. The sharp decline in oil traffic in 1981 marked the beginning of major structural changes in marine operations.

Thus, traffic at the new Grande-Anse Marine Terminal, opened in 1985 and initially intended as an oil tank farm, was gradually diversified to include wood pulp, granite, coal, lumber and salt relocated from the downtown area.

Therefore, the port's major role which once consisted of oil transshipment (at the downtown Chicoutimi Wharf) has changed with the relocation of facilities to Grande-Anse to that of a multipurpose port focused on the handling of forest products, general cargo and dry and liquid bulk, i.e. lumber, pulp and paper, industrial salt, caustic soda, coal, granite etc. As for forest products, the market tends to evolve towards overseas markets as a result of the protectionism which has influenced these sectors in the US and the globalization of trade, which represent a significant and inescapable movement in market developments.

" Development of administrative structure:
from the Chicoutimi Harbour Commission to the Saguenay Port Authority, dates to remember.  "

  • On June 15, 1926, the Governor General gives assent to Bill 150, an act creating the "Chicoutimi Harbour Commission"
  • In 1936, the federal government creates the National Harbours Board (NHB) following the recommendation in the report by Sir Alexander Gibbs, who was directed to review the non-structured system of Canadian ports. In his report, Gibbs recommended that a national harbours board be created and administered on a commercial basis. The Port of Chicoutimi was one of the first seven ports to form the NHB.
  • On February 24, 1983, the Canada Ports Corporation Act replaced the National Harbours Board Act, establishing a new administrative structure, the Canada Ports Corporation, and creating Local Port Corporations at several ports. Ports Canada then comprised 15 ports throughout Canada. The Canada Ports Corporation operated eight Divisional Ports, including the Port of Chicoutimi. In 1992, the Port of Chicoutimi changed its name to "Port Saguenay", which is more representative.
  • On June 10, 1998, the Canada Marine Act  was passed. This new legislation became necessary to reinforce and modernize the marine regulatory system. The objective of this Act is to implement a National Marine Policy that provides Canada with the marine infrastructure it needs that offers effective support for the achievement of local, regional and national social and economic objectives, and will promote and safeguard Canada's competitiveness and trade objectives.

This Act aims to provide a high degree of autonomy for local and regional management and be responsive to local needs and priorities; to manage the marine infrastructure in a commercial manner that encourages and takes into account input from users and the community in which a port or harbour is located. The Canada Marine Act allows for the initial creation of 18 Canadian Port Authorities.

  • On May 1th 1999, the Honourable David Collenette, Minister of Transport, issued Letters Patent establishing the Saguenay Port Authority (Port Saguenay).

  • On February 11th 2000, the Saguenay Port Authority received supplementary letters patent for the operation of the Powell Wharf facilities, owned by Alcan company.  These facilities are located at  La Baie.

  • On June 30, 2004, the Grande-Anse Marine Terminal received a statement of compliance for a port facility under the International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) Code, which allows the Terminal to receive vessels from abroad.

  • On August 27, 2004, the wharf at the Grande-Anse Marine Terminal was named the Marcel-Dionne Warf to honour the late Marcel Dionne, who was the M.P. for the area at the time.

  • On October 31, 2004, following the closure of the Abitibi Consolidated plant in Port-Alfred, the Saguenay Port Authority terminated its management of the port facilities at Powell Wharf.

  • August 2007, Albert-Maltais Wharf demolition.  This terminal, built in 1970, is'nt use since 1992.

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