Churchill Gateway Development Corp

Bring the world to the Port of Churchill

The Port of Churchill is the only seaport that accesses the Arctic Ocean. Its location on the west coast of the Hudson Bay ushers in the world of ocean trade to the Canadian prairies. The Port provides a viable transportation option for exporters looking to move their product to countries in Eastern and Western Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. The Port of Churchill continues to be a cost-effective alternative to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, which presents the challenges of time-consuming navigation, additional handling and high-cost transportation.

A history

As the reputation of the Port grew as an easy and strategically situated transport option, trade movement grew. The following decades saw the import and export of grains, honey, lumber and livestock, and then cars, liquor, pipe, tractors, sodium nitrate and other commodities.

For over 60 years, the Port was owned and operated by the Government of Canada through a crown corporation called Ports Canada. During a period of asset reduction, the government sold the Port and privatised the Canadian National Railway (until this, CN was the rail operator to the Port). The Port is now owned by OmniTRAX Inc., an American transportation services company based in Denver, Colorado which manages and owns several railways.

The railway to the Port of Churchill links with main and secondary lines in North America providing access to a region with a population of 100 million consumers. Manitoba has been known as the hub of transportation linking eastern, western and northern Canada. Manitoba is at the heart of the continent, midway between Montreal and Vancouver, Mexico City and Nunavut. All traffic going east-west or north-south typically funnels through Manitoba. Recognizing this potential trade movement, Manitoba has been actively involved in the development of the Mid-Continent Trade Corridor which links Manitoba with U.S. states.


With wheat accounting for nearly 90 per cent of all traffic through the Port—the Canadian Wheat Board shipped 529,000 tons of western Canadian wheat through the Port during the 2009 shipping season—the Port is continually looking to diversify its cargo. Today vessels come to Churchill from July to November via the Hudson Strait—passing Iceland and Greenland and Baffin Island—to pick up grain as well as bring fertilizer from Russia for distribution throughout western Canada.
The Port is also a vital link in the trans-shipment of mining equipment, petroleum products and goods of all kinds to the Kivalliq region of Nunavut. Vessel Operators now provide scheduled service to the Nunavut region each season, providing reliable supply of goods and equipment to communities including Arviat, Rankin Inlet and Baker Lake.

The 2008 shipping season saw 29,200 metric tonnes of unitized dry cargo move through the Port of Churchill to seven communities in the Kivalliq region. This was a twofold increase from 2007, owing primarily to the substantial increase in mining activity in the Kivalliq region.

The Port of Churchill has recently seen the import of Russian fertilizer. The first Russian ship to unload a shipment of fertilizer was in 2007. The Port successfully built on the success of 2007 and achieved two 9000 metric ton shipments of inbound fertilizer in 2008 from Kaliningrad, Russia. The shipments once again clearly demonstrated the viability of the Arctic Bridge concept linking Churchill with Russian ports and are the result of extensive work to diversify the commodity base of the Port.


The Churchill Gateway Development Corporation (CGDC) was established in June 2003 for the purpose of marketing the Port of Churchill through diversifying the traffic base and building two-way traffic.

The CGDC is a non-share, public-private partnership and includes representation from the Government of Canada (Western Economic Diversification), the Province of Manitoba and OmniTRAX, INC. OmniTRAX is the private owner/operator of the Port of Churchill and the Hudson Bay Railway Company whose rail head is at The Pas, Manitoba up to the Port of Churchill.

CGDC’s Board is chaired by Lloyd Axworthy and has Directors comprised of academics, business leaders, former statesmen and logistic experts which reflect the serious commitment of Manitoban and Canadian leaders to the successful future of the Port of Churchill.

The development of the CGDC is part of a renewed effort to diversify the Port of Churchill’s business. With the increase in land transportation rates, the increased economic activity in the north, and changing dynamics in the international bulk commodity markets, Churchill is ideally positioned to capture new business. CB