It has taken more than a century, but the dream for the Port of Prince Rupert has finally come true. The British Columbia, Canada, port — conceived as the
terminus of the shortest marine route from Asia and a
gateway for Canadian products and commodities — has
emerged as a direct link between Asian markets and
mid-American cities such as Chicago and Memphis.
Prince Rupert was the dream of founder Charles
Hays, who saw the potential for the deep, sheltered
harbor connected by a third Canadian transcontinental
railroad. Hays never saw his rail line completed, as he
died on the Titanic in 1912 after traveling to London to
secure funding for the project.
The railway was built, but politics and economics kept
both railroad and port from being fully developed. That is
not to say there were not booms along with the busts.
During World War II, Prince Rupert was a vital connection for U.S. forces in Alaska and the Aleutians. At one
time, there were more than 50 salmon canneries there.
Hays probably could not conceive of today’s just-in-time delivery, high-value logistics business model a century ago. But that is what is making the port important today.
“Twenty years ago, this community was more of a fish-
ing port and a forest industry community than a seaport,”
said Don Krusel, president and chief
executive officer of the Prince
Rupert Port Authority (PRPA).
“We had the canneries and the
pulp mill. But both of those indus-
tries have declined, and this com-
munity was hard hit economically.
Today, the port, and especially the
container terminal, has breathed life
back into the community,” he said.
“The port industry is the economy
and the economy is the port.”
Prince Rupert now handles grain,
coal, forest products and containers,
as well as cruise ships and ferry pas-
sengers. Eight years ago, the port
saw 250 vessel calls carrying about 5 million tons. The
number of ships since has doubled, and because the
ships are bigger, the cargo has grown by 500 percent.
The grain and coal commodities are subject to market
swings, as are forest products and container traffic. But
with these four established business areas, as well as the
cruise ships, wood pellets and wax, not to mention the
potential for new potash shipments and planned lique-
fied natural gas (LNG) terminals, Prince Rupert’s bal-
anced portfolio likely will manage the ups and downs.
According to port spokesman Kris Schumacher,
PRPA acts as a steward of 2,400 acres of land, 35,000
acres of water and, because Prince Rupert is not over-developed, there is room to grow and meet the needs
of contemporary markets.
“Our vision is to grow and utilize this natural doorway
on the Pacific for North American trade. And I emphasize
the word ‘North American’ rather than ‘Canadian’ trade
because we do sit on a North American trade corridor,
because the shortest distance between the trade ports in
Asia and the North American heartland around Chicago
and Memphis runs through Prince Rupert. So we’re a
North American gateway, and we’re on the radar screen of
all the industry importers and exporters that are looking
Vision for remote Prince Rupert port becomes reality 100 years later
By EDWARD LUNDQUIST, Special Correspondent
The Prince Rupert Port Authority acts as a steward of 2,400
acres of land, 35,000 acres of water and, because Prince Rupert
is not over-developed, there is room to grow and meet the needs
of contemporary markets
■ Canada’s “leading-edge” port handles grain, coal, forest products and containers, as well as cruise ships and ferry passengers.
■ The shortest marine route from Asia is also the most rail-direct
link to middle America.
■ Planned LNG terminals will make the port even busier.