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From the early days of fish and fur, the Port of Oshawa has been at the centre of trade.  It began as a transfer point for fur traders, who loaded their pelts onto canoes at Oshawa’s harbour. Later, in 1794, Benjamin Wilson laid claim to the abandoned trading post, becoming the first settler to arrive in Oshawa.

By the mid 1800s, the harbour was becoming a vital transportation link that made Oshawa the place to be for industry including tanneries and foundries. As businesses and manufacturing grew around the harbour, Oshawa drew comparisons to England’s industrial city of Manchester, becoming known as the “Manchester of Canada.” By 1930, the auto industry was gaining in popularity. That summer, Oshawa Harbour officially opened with the arrival of the S.S. City of Kingston, as it picked up a cargo of General Motors cars.

Over the years, the City of Oshawa has been a strong advocate of the port. In 1960, at the City’s request, the federal government turned the administration of the harbour over to a new local body, the Oshawa Harbour Commission. The City transferred 270 acres of land to the Commission for future port purposes, including most of the Second Marsh. Donna Taylor, CEO of the Oshawa Port Authority, was a member of the Oshawa Task Force that pressed for preservation of the Second Marsh. The Harbour Commission adopted that plan, and Friends of Second Marsh publically thanked Taylor for her “The Oshawa Port Authority has never deviated from the plan,” said Taylor. “Throughout the years it has been a champion of both industry and the environment, respecting all users of Oshawa’s port.”

Donna Taylor has been at the helm of Oshawa’s port for more than 30 years. She describes the 1970s as an emerging decade for the port. That’s when West Cane Sugar, later acquired by Lantic, built its multi-million dollar refinery. The investment was the first of many successful partnerships with the port, resulting in a 10-year agreement to dredge the harbour, and make an important shift from domestic to international shipping.

In the 1980s, as the port extended its reach, it transitioned from bulk cargo like coal to steel. It had land available, and was eager to welcome new industry. That’s what attracted McAsphalt, one of the port’s early customers.

“The Port of Oshawa was an ideal location, allowing us to ship our products by barge across the Great Lakes,” said John Carrick, President of McAsphalt. “The port has grown over the years, and so has our operation and our success. It was the leadership at the port that gave us the confidence to expand.”

The City pledged to encourage the port’s expansion and economic development in the 2010 Settlement Agreement. Two years later, the port proved it had the governance stability to lead economic growth. The Port of Oshawa gained the coveted Port Authority status in 2012. It was a turning point in the history and the transformation of the port.

“Creation of the port authority was symbolic of the federal government’s commitment to the port and its potential,” said Gary Valcour, Chair of the Oshawa Port Authority. “That provided the governance structure to attract new industry and investment and really build on what we’d started.”

Since then, several new companies have chosen to invest in the Port of Oshawa, including Triad Metals International. The wholesale distributor of structural steel products is currently building its first Canadian warehousing operation on Farewell Avenue – a new location that allows it to serve Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes and U.S. far more efficiently.

Triad is among current and future port users, who stand to gain from the Port of Oshawa’s expansion. A new $2.5 million cargo pad on the east port lands, allows the port to handle more cargo. With completion of the East Wharf Consolidation Project, proximity to 400-series highways and the new rail spur, the port can now offer companies all means of reaching world markets.

“Over the decades, the Port of Oshawa has moved with the times,” added Taylor. “As cargo changes, so has the port’s ability to meet the increasing demands of industry.”

The proof is in the numbers. In 2014, cargo volumes at the port weighed in at over 357 thousand metric tonnes, up by more than 22 percent from the year before. On average, the port handles $23 million worth of cargo annually, from steel and grain to asphalt and potash.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far,” added Valcour. “With the support of our port users, and the late Jim Flaherty’s recognition of the port’s potential, we’ve been able to carry out our vision and stay true to the port’s early roots as the heart of industrial Oshawa.”

Contact Information

Donna Taylor
President/CEO and Harbourmaster

1621 Simcoe Street South
Oshawa, Ontario
Canada L1H 8J7

Phone: (905) 576-0400

Fax: (905) 576-5701

Email: For the President and CEO/Harbourmaster directly and any Project or Cargo inquiries please email portoshawa@bellnet.ca
           For General inquiries please email info@portofoshawa.ca

© Port of Oshawa, 2017