Strait of Canso Port
The Strait of Canso Port is located in mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island, on the east coast of Canada. This naturally deep, ice-free harbour is vital to businesses located along the port, as they depend on the port for exporting finished product to markets and/or importing raw materials, supplies, and equipment for local manufacturing.
According to a study conducted by Gardner Pinfold in 2010, titled “Economic Impact Study of Independent Marine Ports in Atlantic Canada,” port-dependent businesses along the Strait of Canso Port create 1,400 full-time equivalent jobs, $136 million in wages and salaries, and $193 million in expenditures for other goods and services, annually.
Port operations and related business activities represent a large form of income and employment in the Strait of Canso area, which include the surrounding communities of Guysborough County, Richmond County, Inverness County, Port Hawkesbury, Port Hastings, and Mulgrave.
Evolution of a Superport
Between mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island lies a Superport once called a sleeping giant. Prior to 1955, the Strait of Canso was once plagued with ice flows so heavy that ferries traveling between Port Hawkesbury and Mulgrave could be carried miles off course; currents were strong enough to break lines tied to vessels at the wharves; and planes were able to use the ice on the Strait of Canso as a runway. In 1955, the $23 million Canso Causeway was completed, which formed a permanent link between mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island. Although it brought with it the loss of ferry and railway jobs, it also came with an unexpected surprise – an amazing Superport was formed. The Canso Causeway created a barrier between ice packs on the north side and formed a deep, ice-free harbour on the south side. The Strait Superport was identified as an important factor in the region’s growth.
During and after the construction of the Canso Causeway, a committee called the Four Counties Development Association was formed representing Antigonish, Guysborough, Inverness, and Richmond. The committee made it their mission to let the world know the Strait area was the place for new industry. In 1971, Stora Kopparberg invested in a pulp and paper mill and became the area’s largest employer. Others followed including Gulf Oil Limited, Georgia Pacific, and Nova Scotia Power. These industries have continued to exist and evolve forming the industrial base for the Strait area.