Saturday, November 18, 2023

For the Record

 The old adage "Don't believe everything you read" might also include the post script "and be careful how you read it".

Halifax's daily newspaper The Chronicle-Herald includes a weekly history page which contains accounts of interesting events in Nova Scotia's and more particularly Halifax's past. Today (Saturday, November 18) there were two statements that need clarification, because they could be misread. The writer, a respected author, relied on published material - some of which was out of date - and perhaps misunderstood some of it. I have personal recollections (and notes) that may clarify what was writtten in today's piece.

1. Quote " November 21, 1970 - Atlantic Cinderella - the Atlantic Container Line's (ACL) first ship - arrived in Halifax to unload at container Pier C adjacent to Point Pleasant Park. ACL has been continuously calling on the Port of Halifax ever since."

This of course deserves two observations:

1. Atlantic Cinderella was the first ship to unload at what was then called the Halterm container pier (now PSA Halifax Atlantic Hub), but the ships of the Atlantic Container Line had been calling in Halifax well before the Halterm facility was completed. I have previously published my July 1970 photo of the Atantic Cinderella at Pier 36 with a Halterm crane under construction in the background.

The ACL ships also carried the first Roll On - Roll Off (RoRo) cargo for Halifax starting in March 1970 when the Atlantic Star, delivered kits for 200 Volvo cars to be assembled in Halifax and 200 finished Volvo cars for the United States market. The line also transported other vehicles such as Volkswagen Westfalia "camper vans" (early version RVs) for European tourists visiting North America. The MAFI trailer in the foreground was used to to carry the Volvo crates and other "un-wheeled" cargo on and off the ship.

The kit components were loaded by a "SIMA Lift" trailer and transported to the Volvo assembly plant at Pier 9. (Photo dated April 1970). (Volvo did not sell or make trucks in North America at that time, so used a Chevrolet.)

(The National Harbour's Board (NHB) cold storage facility in the background has long since been demolished.)

So the start of the "continuously" was well before November 1970.

2. In 1987 ACL merged its services with Hapag-Lloyd, renamed its ships with Hapag style names (e.g. the Atlantic Concert was renamed Concert Express) before reverting back to their orginal names in 1994. They shifted some of their Canadian operations from Halifax to Montreal. Although the ships may have continued to call in Halifax I believe it (technically) may have interrupted the "continuous" chain that is claimed since they were not operating independently.


Incidentally the statement that the Fairview Cove container terminal "was operated by Cerescorp Inc (now a subsidiary of the Japanese Shipping Company Nippon Yusen)" is factual, but may leave the impression that they still operate the facility. In fact since 2022 PSA has been operating both Halifax container terminals, PSA Fairview Cove and the Southend Container Terminal - PSA Halifax Atlantic Hub (not as stated).


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