Celebrating 225 Years of Port Activity

For 225 years the port has served as a unique and essential piece of transportation infrastructure for the City of Toronto.

While the first commercial shipment arrived at Fort Rouille (the Fort at Toronto) in 1749, it took another 44 years for the town of York (since renamed Toronto), and its shipping port to be established. Since then the Port of Toronto has been governed by the province of Upper Canada, the Toronto Harbour Trust, the Toronto Harbour Commissioners and now the Toronto Port Authority, doing business as PortsToronto.

Shipping through the Great Lakes changed dramatically in the early 1800s with the rise of steam-powered vessels and the first Lake Ontario steamship, which launched in 1816. More changes came with the opening of the Beauharnois and Williamsburg canals, in 1845 and 1849 respectively, allowing travel through the waterways from Montreal to Lake Ontario. When the railroads arrived in the 1850s, the port truly became an intermodal hub for the transportation of goods.

Over the next 100 years the Port of Toronto would continue to grow and change to meet the needs of the city and the shipping industry. 1861 marked the first Beaver Hat ceremony to celebrate the arrival of the first vessel into the Port of Toronto. Initially given to the captain of any vessel that reached port first, the Beaver Hat is now awarded to the captain of the first ocean-faring vessel. In 1918 the headquarters for the Toronto Harbour Commission was completed at 60 Harbour Street, and in 1929 the Shipping Channel Bridge was officially opened. With the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, shipping through the Great Lakes system became easier than ever.

Now serving primarily as a bulk cargo destination, the Port of Toronto continues to boast a seamless network of cost-effective intermodal links to road, rail and air transportation that ships to destinations around the world. In addition to moving cargo, the Port also welcomes cruise ships and passengers from around the globe through the Cruise Ship Terminal which first opened in 2005.

To read more about the 157th Beaver Hat Ceremony click here.

To learn about the 225 years of port activity click here.