The 26 grain elevators at the twin cities of Port Arthur and Fort William on Lake Superior (the area known as the Lakehead) stretch approximately 20 miles along Thunder Bay and have a capacity of 100,000,000 bushels.
The 26 grain elevators at the twin cities of Port Arthur and Fort William on Lake Superior (the area known as the Lakehead) stretch approximately 20 miles along Thunder Bay and have a capacity of 100,000,000 bushels. The majority of these elevators are owned by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, and the Manitoba Wheat Pool; with the remainder being owned by private companies.
In this modern age, this volume of grain demands high speed and efficient handling -- both from the point of view of receipt of grain from the Prairies and the trans-shipment by water. The Saskatchewan Wheat Pool has installed an improved type of mechanical boxcar dumper to expedite the unloading operation - it can completely unload 12 cars representing 25,000 bushels of wheat or 40,000 bushels of oats per hour and thoroughly clean the cars so that sweeping by employees is no longer necessary.
The labour involved consists of one man operating a push button control. The engine pushes the car onto the cradle of the machine, dual-purpose clamps come up from a horizontal position to serve as a locking device between the cradle and the rails, then these clamps grip each end of the car. The bottom of the door is constructed of cardboard. This is opened manually by the operator to release the pressure of grain within the car, and then the mechanism takes over. The powered mechanical rams swing inward from the machine frame pushing inside wooden grain doors inward and upward through the grain and to the ceiling, and two hydraulic cylinders tilt the car to a 12 degree angle, and the car is rocked twice each way to a maximum of a 40 degree angle - the grain then flows from the raised end through each door and into the pit. When the upper end of the car is cleaned, two deep-bladed baffles enter by each door to meet at the center of the car to form a solid snowplow shaped wall and then the car is tilted in the opposite direction to clear the other end. The cradle then returns to horizontal, baffles and door openers automatically withdraw and the car is unclamped. The emptying operation can be completed in five to seven minutes depending on the type of grain load.
All grains are cleaned and processed to the requirements of the Canada Grain ct, and then loaded by spouts from the grain elevators to the hatches of the lake freighters and ocean-going vessels for shipment through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway to elevators in the east or abroad.
Our story covers the unloading operation, cleaning and loading aboard the MONTREALAIS -- one of the largest lake freighters carrying grain from the Lakehead to elevators at Montreal or other cities along the St. Lawrence River. The MONTREALAIS is 730' in length and in its hold it can carry 845,000 bushels of wheat.
There are now fewer vessels arriving at the Lakehead during the eight months shipping season (approximately the first of April until early December) because of the trend towards using larger lake freighters or ocean going vessels which can now navigate up the St. Lawrence via the Seaway.