Each autumn, through the months of October, November and December, farmers from all over southern Ontario bring their grain into Hamilton’s terminals. Throughout this busy season, several hundred trucks and railcars per day will be unloaded. Ontario grain is considered to be among the highest quality available on the global market; it makes its way from the Port of Hamilton to food processors and dinner tables in North America and around the world aboard domestic lakers and oceangoing vessels. The Port of Hamilton is now home to some of Canada’s largest grain handlers, contributing to the city’s emergence as a major agri-food hub in southern Ontario. Agricultural commodities transiting the port have grown by 35% since 2008; and according to Hamilton’s Economic Development office, agriculture is now a $1.3 billion engine of the city’s economy. Manitoba-based Richardson International is a worldwide handler and merchandiser of major Canadian-grown grains and oilseeds and has had a presence in Hamilton for more than a decade. “Hamilton has emerged as a major grain hub in Ontario and demand continues to grow,” says Riley Verhelst, director of operations for Richardson. “Last year, we completed a significant expansion to increase handling and shipping capacity and we are committed to continuing to invest in our facility to improve efficiency and keep pace with growing demand.” The port recently attracted 103-year-old Canadian-owned grain trading company Parrish & Heimbecker (P&H). The company has completed the first phase of a uniquely designed modern, efficient grain terminal. Matt Gardner, P&H’s operations manager said,“Ontario farmers face tough competition in accessing world markets, so our focus was on fast, efficient truck unloading, careful handling and storage, and efficient loading of vessels. We are very happy with the response from Ontario farmers and with the performance of our terminal.” Terminals play a critical role in facilitating the movement of grain to export markets, providing storage capacity and finding markets for domestic surpluses. “Richardson’s terminal and P&H’s iconic domed grain silos are helping transform the city’s skyline and its reputation,” said Bruce Wood, Hamilton Port Authority president and CEO. The expansion of the port’s grain handling business is part of a concerted effort to diversify the types of cargo the Port of Hamilton is known for, notes Wood. “We have pushed hard to expand the port’s capacity in the agricultural sector, and having the right partners like Richardson and P&H on-board has given us a tonne of momentum.” In addition to grain handlers, the Port of Hamilton is home to companies and assets that comprise a significant agrifood sector ‘food chain’, for example:

  • Bunge Canada, a world leader in the processing and marketing of oilseeds and edible oil products; 
  • Agrico and Sylvite Agri-Services, specializing in the handling of fertilizers; 
  • Toronto Tank Lines and Westway Terminals, providing storage and transloading of biodiesel, seed oil and other liquid commodities; 
  • also, the port’s multimodal transportation connections offer efficiency in competitive global agricultural markets where margins are often narrow. In the near-term, the port will be undertaking an aggressive investment plan to expand and enhance its rail network. 

When it comes to providing access to export markets for Ontario grain producers, Bruce Wood notes: “The port’s location is unsurpassed. But it is the partners, the facilities and the multimodal transportation connections that have propelled us forward.” The Port of Hamilton is the largest Canadian port on the Great Lakes in terms of size and cargo handled.The Hamilton Port Authority’s strategic vision is to be the Great Lakes port of choice.