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What We Do

We ensure the safe and efficient passage of vessels along the St. Lawrence Seaway, which extends from Montreal in the east to mid-Lake Erie in the west. Ranked as one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century, the Seaway includes 13 Canadian locks and 2 U.S. locks. We share responsibility for the System with our American counterpart, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. Together, we coordinate on a host of operational activities, ranging from traffic management to navigation aids and every other conceivable issue you might imagine would be important for a major waterway. Vessels that move through our waters fall into three main groups: bulk carriers or “lakers”, ocean ships or “salties”, and tug-propelled barges.

The Scope of What We Do

The scope of our operations is enormous, both on a commercial and human level. Virtually every commodity imaginable moves on the Seaway System, from coal to ore to limestone and grain. It becomes easier to see how it’s important to be highly efficient in ensuring safe cargo passage when you consider the impact of all this. For example, one vessel may be carrying iron ore to operate a giant steel mill for four days; another may be carrying enough coal to power Greater Detroit for one day; yet another may be moving enough wheat to make bread for every resident of New York for nearly a month. In addition, there are the faces in the vessels and behind the scenes – hundreds of them: mariners, longshoremen and shipyard workers to name a few. All told, hundreds of thousands of jobs and millions of everyday people depend on the waterway. And they depend on us to ensure its constant smooth functioning. What a task! But we love doing it, and we do it well.