People Around the Port: Dan Albert, Tug Boat Captain

Dan Albert on ATL tug.jpg

Pictured here: Dan Albert, tugboat captain for Atlantic Towing Limited at the Port of Saint John.

Port Saint John is a busy place. Many people, doing many different jobs, all contribute to keeping things moving.

It is easy to assume that everyone who works here is a Port Saint John employee – but that’s not true. A great number of the people who work on the water and on the wharves work for partner companies who provide essential services.

Today we’re featuring Dan Albert, who is one of seven tugboat captains working for Port Saint John partner company Atlantic Towing Limited. We asked him about the kind of work he does, and how he started out on the tugs.


A:  Tugs are an integral part of harbour operation, ensuring the safe and timely docking and undocking of ships in the Saint John harbour.


A:  Most of my work consists of providing ship assist for tankers and cargo ships in Courtenay Bay, and cargo ships in the main harbour – helping them move safely in and out of the harbour. We also assist the odd cruise ship when the weather calls for it, and can get called to fill in at Canaport and assist with LNG tankers. 

I’m also responsible for ship management and ship maintenance. We have a preventive maintenance program onboard our tugs that keep the crews busy throughout each day, along with regular maintenance and upkeep of the boats.


A:  Operating the tug is definitely my favourite part of the job. I have always enjoyed manoeuvring boats, it never gets old for me. 


A:  The most exciting and challenging day I’ve had on the job was when I passed my exams to become Captain and started training the very next day on a brand new Z-drive tug.

It was very challenging, because these tug were unconventional at the time. They do not have a steering wheel like you would expect, as they are operated by joysticks and are highly manoeuvrable.

It took a while to wrap my brain around this new concept of tug manoeuvring, especially as a Captain just starting out.


A:  I have been with Atlantic Towing for 31 years full-time this coming July. It was a natural fit for me, because my family has a strong connection to the company.

My father (Claudius) worked here for 46 years before retirement, and my uncle Augustine worked here for roughly 42 years before his retirement.

My brother also started working with Atlantic Towing at the age of 14 or 15. He still works on a tug at this time, but for Irving Oil (Canaport).

Several of my cousins also worked here over the years. My cousin Mario Gionet started out as a deckhand then went on to become Chief Engineer and is presently Superintendent.


A:  I started going on the tugs with my father from the time I was 5 years old. When my brother and I were a little older, Dad would let us bring a friend with us for trips up the river to Chipman.

I started working on the St. John River with my father during the summer months when I was 14 years old. At that age, I had to get a note from my doctor and a work permit to be able to work on the river tugs.

I started out as deckhand, and there wasn’t any type of formal training like they have now. It was all on-the-job training.

I became mate in 1991. To be a mate, I went to the School of Fisheries in Caraquet for four months and then to Holland College for an extra two months to complete my courses the following winter.

In 1995, I went to the Nova Scotia Community College to become Captain.


A:  My advice would be to take pride and interest in your job, stay motivated, and to always try to be the best worker you can be. 

To learn more about careers at Atlantic Towing visit their website.

Editors’ Note:  Watch for the tug water display in the harbour on Community Day, June 12, 2016 at 1 pm.  Dan Albert just maybe the captain on one of the tugs!




Port Days 2016 offers expanded business programming

group gary charlotte and walter

From left: Gary Doer, Co-chair of the Canada Institute Advisory Board at the Wilson Centre, former Ambassador to the United States and former Premier of Manitoba; Charlotte Bell, CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Canada; and Dr. Walter Kemmsies, Managing Director, Economist and Chief Strategist for the U.S. Ports, Airports and Global Infrastructure Group at Jones Lang LaSalle.

Port Days has always offered great speakers and topics related to import/export, global transportation infrastructure, and international partnerships – but the 2016 schedule is bigger and better than ever.

“For the first time ever, the Port Days line-up includes concurrent sessions, which means we have more to offer than ever before,” says Jim Quinn, President and CEO of Port Saint John. “This year our Tuesday business sessions offer delegates the choice of attending sessions on cargo, rail and infrastructure – or sessions on cruise and tourism development.”

Here are the highlights of this year’s schedule:

MONDAY JUNE 13: Delegates can choose to attend the Port Days Golf Tournament at the Algonquin Resort Golf Course, or the Tastes of NB Walking Tour. We get back together in the evening for the Opening Reception, and the Port Award of the Year celebration.

TUESDAY JUNE 14: At Breakfast, we’ll start out by getting motivated for the rest of the business discussions by hearing from speaker Dr. David Scott – sports psychologist and consultant to the Sea Dogs and to NHL teams.

Then we’ll adjourn to attend the business panel sessions from 8:45 am – 11:45 am which will run in two concurrent steams and feature a variety of speakers on topics including the economic social impacts of ports and opportunities in rail on the cargo stream, and growth/trends and infrastructure/product development in the cruise and tourism stream:

Economic and Social Benefits of
Trade & Ports                                              

Dr. Walter Kemmsies, Managing Director, Economist and Chief Strategist
JLL Ports Airports and Global Infrastructure
Stephen E. Lund, CEO
Opportunities New Brunswick
Wendy Zatylny, President
Association of Canadian Port Authorities


Cruise & Tourism – Trends for Growth
Perspectives from Global to Local

Charlotte Bell, CEO
Tourism Industry Association of Canada
Cindy Creamer-Rouse, Director
Department of Tourism, Culture & Heritage, Province of New Brunswick
Victoria Clarke
Executive Director, Discover Saint John
Beth Kelly Hatt, Founder, Aquila Tours
Rail Opportunities

Tommy Browning, VP of Marketing and Sales – Energy, Merchandise, Bulk & Auto,
CP Railway
Wayne T. Power, Group VP, Transportation & Logistics Division
J.D. Irving, Limited
Kelly Levis, Asst. VP Sales & Marketing,
CN Railway
John Giles, President
Central Maine & Quebec Railway



Cruise and Tourism- The Bricks & Mortar of Achieving Growth – What is on our horizon?

Claire Foote, Port Services Development and Planning Manager, Carnival Group UK
Beth Kelly Hatt – Fort LaTour Development
Victoria Clarke –  Food Tourism Strategy
Nancy Lockerbie – Fundy Trail Parkway
Kent MacIntyre – Fundy Quay and Boardwalk
Dennis Campbell – An exciting new project

Over the Port Days Keynote Luncheon, hosted in partnership with The Chamber and the East Coast Energy Connection, we’ll hear from speaker Gary Doer, Co-chair of the Canada Institute Advisory Board at the Wilson Centre,  former ambassador to the United States and former Premier of Manitoba.

The afternoon marks the start of the East Coast Energy Connection agenda, with sessions taking place at the Delta Brunswick Hotel.

The evening’s festivities celebrate another successful Port Days and with the ever-popular Seafood Fiesta reception and dinner!

We hope you’ll join us this year!

For the full schedule, as well as registration information, visit

A Day to Support Our Ports: United for the Future

April 5th marks Western Hemisphere Ports Day, a time to acknowledge our industry’s role in job creation and economic prosperity, and its commitment to education, training and environmental stewardship initiatives on behalf of the communities we serve across the Americas.

Led by the American Association of Port Authorities and the Association of Canadian Port Authorities – under the banner “United for the Future” – we’re proud to join hundreds of ports in North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, to highlight and celebrate the value of ports.

Like ports worldwide, we have an ongoing commitment to remind our community and its leaders about the important role we play in New Brunswick and Canada as a vital link to the global economy.

According to IHS World Trade Service, combined international sea trade moving through Western Hemisphere ports in 2014 totaled 3.48 billion metric tons in volume and $4.9 trillion (CAD) in value.  Of that total, ports in Central and South America handled 1.68 billion metric tons of cargo valued at $2.1 trillion (CAD), while North American ports handled 1.79 billion metric tons of goods, valued at $3.7 trillion (CAD).    Finally, within the North American total, the 18 members of Canada’s national port system move 311.5 million metric tonnes of goods valued at over $400 billion (CAD).

reduced gdp for april 5However, the economic worth of all cargo in terms of jobs and business activity is much greater than its market value.  According to the Association of Canadian Port Authorities activity at its member ports play a pivotal role in driving Canada’s economy by contributing $25 billion (CAD) to the nation’s GDP, creating 250,000 direct and indirect jobs that pay higher-than-average wages, and handling nearly two-thirds of the country’s waterborne cargo.

Ports also play a critical role in providing goods that impact our everyday lives.  Millions of tons of food, clothing, medicine, fuel and building materials, as well as consumer electronics and toys, move through Western Hemisphere seaports every day.

And the volume of cargo shipped by water is expected to dramatically increase by 2020, as reduced jobs fro april 5
will the number of passengers traveling through our seaports. To meet these demands, we’re committed to keeping our ports navigable, secure and sustainable.

On Ports Day, port leaders from across the hemisphere are gathering in Washington for their Annual Spring Conference to discuss how we can best manage increasing freight volumes and remain successful in a dynamic global economy, among other challenges.  Most importantly, we will also continue collaboration on ways our industry can lead the way in terms of job creation and economic growth.

We’re proud to join hundreds of Western Hemisphere seaports in celebration of Ports Day.  On behalf of workers, farmers, employers, manufacturers and consumers everywhere, we are truly united for the future.

Peter Gaulton, Chair of the Board of Directors
Port Saint John

A proud Cunarder: Lulu’s story

Lulu on a Cunard ship

Above: Lulu Chisholm, touring the Cunard Liner Queen Elizabeth, when it was docked in New York harbour.

Editor’s note: when we spoke to Lulu for this story, she mentioned how much she still loves the music of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy – singers from the 1940s. If you’re so inclined, we recommend listening to one of their tunes while you read this blog post. Here’s a link to one of their greatest hits, Indian Love Call:


Last year, the Cunard Line celebrated 175 years in business. Its fabled vessels have plied international waters in high style, and played a role in nearly two centuries of history.

Lulu Chisholm, sharp as a tack at almost 94 years of age, took time to chat with us this Fall about her time working for the company.

“You can do almost anything on a ship,” says Lulu with faraway eyes. She remembers the times she traveled on her employer’s ships with amazing detail.

“There was always lots to do. On one trip we had a fancy hat parade, where you made hats out of whatever you had in your luggage. At night there was always the orchestra and dancing. You could even see a movie on board – but who would want to?”

Lulu Chisholm was born on the Magdalen Islands in 1921, where she lived until the age of 18. Her father was a Morse Code operator for the Canadian Marconi Company, and was stationed there in 1917.

In 1941 Lulu moved to Halifax, where she accepted a job as a stenographer. Two years later, she took a job at the Cunard Line’s busy Halifax offices.

“Oh there was a lot going on then – it was wartime, you know,” says Lulu. “I earned $93 a month, working in the freight department. I was a typist and I did shorthand. I loved every minute of it.”

At the time, the line’s two largest vessels – the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary – were repurposed to carry troops overseas. They were the fastest ships available, able to make the Atlantic crossing in four days.

“My first experience on one of the Cunard Line vessels was on the Queen Mary. It was in troop-carrying mode at the time. Our boss arranged for all the girls in the office to go on board for afternoon tea,” says Lulu. “We had a tour of the ship afterward, and saw where the men would sleep in rows of hammocks.”

At the end of the war, ordinary civilians began travelling overseas again.

Lulu describes trainloads of people arriving in Halifax to travel to England on the Cunard ship Aquitania.

“The girls in the office would do check-in, taking a portion of the ticket as they boarded the vessel. And then we’d be invited on board for dinner,” she says. “It was wonderful.”

In 1949 Lulu accepted a transfer to Cunard’s Toronto office, where she could live closer to her brother.

“I took a job in the freight department there – but instead of being the only girl there, I was now one of three,” says Lulu.

Shortly after moving to Toronto, Lulu was offered the position of assistant to the Office Manager – someone she had a great deal of respect for.

“He was a marvelous man. He always dressed immaculately,” she says. “I was really pleased about this new job, I had my own office and everything.”

At the time Lulu was working for Cunard, employees needed to put in 15 years before they were allotted three weeks of vacation time per year.

When Lulu earned her third week, her good friend May Blakely said: “we’re going overseas whether you get seasick or not.”

Lulu on QE

Above: Lulu aboard the Queen Elizabeth.  The ship was docked in New York harbour, and Lulu was on vacation with her friend May. “I was so proud of that suit,” she says. “I made it myself.”

“May and I did two trips together. The first was in 1963 on the Queen Elizabeth, to southern England.”

Here’s what Lulu had to say about the voyage over:

On that first trip, they would change the clocks back an hour a day each day at midnight, so when you arrived in England you were all adjusted. One morning we overslept and missed breakfast. The waitress asked if she could make us coffee, but we said no, that was all right. It was a beautiful day, and we were walking on the deck. Near the swimming pool was a bar, and on it there was a huge tray of sandwiches. I asked May – do you want a sandwich? She said to me: I’ll have a sandwich if you have a pint! So we had a breakfast of beer and sandwiches!

On the way home, Lulu and May traveled on the Franconia – a much smaller vessel – during a hurricane.

“That was quite an experience! During the storm they handed out little blue pills for seasickness, and we ate only chicken sandwiches and apples for an entire day. No extra fluids.”

Lulu’s next trip with May was on the Queen Mary in 1965.

Captain Warwick entertained us before meals in the dining room. On one cloudy day with rough seas, I said: ‘it looks rough out there, but I don’t feel any motion – why is that?’ The captain said: ‘my dear, I have the wind behind the ship.’”

We had terrific table companions on that trip. The eight of us had a great time.

 The orchestra leader took requests – and when we arrived in the dining room, they would start to play our music. Back then I loved listening to Nelson Eddie and Jeanette McDonald.

In 2006 the Queen Mary came to Saint John, and the captain on board was the son of Captain Warwick.

Lulu 2006

Above: Lulu, quayside to see the Queen Mary 2 in 2006.

Lulu remembers May – her traveling companion on these adventures – fondly. May has since passed away, but Lulu says her spirit stays with her.

“She’s right here on my shoulder.”

Lulu concluded her career with Cunard in 1968.

“I was proud to be a Cunarder. I am still proud to be one,” she says – emotion in her voice. “I love to talk about those times.”

In 1976 Lulu married the love of her life, a man she met on the Magdalen Islands when she was 17.

Don Chisholm came to the islands as a tutor for the English children in the community of Grindstone. Classes were held in Lulu’s parents’ home, and he lived there with them for approximately two years. He went overseas to fight in 1940, met and married his first wife Winnifred in 1942, and was in Holland when the war ended. Don and his wife had two children, and in the early 1960s the family relocated to Saint John, where he took a job at Veteran’s Affairs. Winnifred passed away in 1974.

In August 1975 Lulu was visiting family on the East Coast, and she decided she should visit Don.

“I knew he wasn’t well at the time, and had recently lost his wife,” she says. “When I saw him I gave him a peck on the cheek. His arms flew around me and he said: ‘we can do better than that.’ And that was it!”

In January 1976, Don visited Lulu in Toronto, and in April she came to Saint John for his 60th birthday. On the 29th of May they were married, and Lulu moved into Don’s home in Erb’s Cove on the Belleisle Bay.

“Everywhere I’ve lived, I make sure I can see the water,” says Lulu. “I’m proud to have been a part of the Cunard story. All the people I worked with there were very good to me.”


Saint John to enjoy boost in cruise ship passenger numbers in 2016


Triple cruise ship day in 2015

May 9th will see the first cruise ship of the season dock in Saint John harbour, and it will be the beginning of a busy season of calls.

By the time the last ship casts off its lines on October 28th, 64 ships will have visited, bringing with them approximately144,000 passengers and 57,700 crew.

“Our passenger numbers for 2016 represent an increase of 20% over last year,” says Jim Quinn, President & CEO of Port Saint John. “That is great news for Southern New Brunswick, and for its many tourism-related businesses.”

This year’s cruise ship schedule includes six inaugural calls from ships that have not visited our city before. These include Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Sunshine, Holland America’s Rotterdam, Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas, Hapag Lloyd’s Europa 2, Azamara Club Cruises’ Azamara Quest, and Phoenix Reisen’s Amadea.

Azamara Club Cruises is a new line for Port Saint John. Described as a mid-sized boutique luxury line, their vessel Azamara Quest will dock on October 1st, carrying close to 700 passengers.

Blount Small Ship Adventures will also return this year, staying dockside for five days.

Disney Cruise Line also returns to the port city with Disney Magic on October 4th, after a four-year hiatus.

“This season we will have 8 double-ship days and 4 triple-ship days,” says Quinn. “Our busiest cruise day will be October 19, when we will welcome 8,900 passengers and 3,500 crew for a total of 12,400 visitors to the city. We look forward to an active cruise season for the many operators both large and small in Southern New Brunswick who depend on this industry.”

Cruise activity via Port Saint John represents a $25 million annual boost to New Brunswick’s economy.


Waterside weddings at Port Saint John

February is wedding month, so we’re celebrating with our very own “real weddings” story.

Liz and Nick 1

Liz & Nick at their wedding reception in the Fundy Room, Diamond Jubilee Cruise Terminal. September 2015   (Photography by Judith & Jordan)

Meet Liz and Nick.

Liz, who works in not-for-profit, and her husband Nick, a lawyer, both grew up in the Greater Saint John area. Both spent time away from the city for school and work, but recently moved back to the Port City, engaged and ready to set down roots.

They planned their September 25th wedding to be an uptown affair.

The ceremony was held at the Stone Church, and they wanted a reception venue that would be handy for their 140 guests.

Liz says she pictured a wedding reception that wasn’t too trendy or old fashioned – she envisioned something in-between, which would look great in photos for years to come.

They chose the Diamond Jubilee Cruise Terminal at Port Saint John as their venue.

“I graduated from Saint John high in 2004, and Uptown was pretty different then,” says Liz. “But since then, there has been a transformation in this city, and the Port has been a big part of that. They have changed the skyline here, in a wonderful way. They have made Water Street a real destination.”

She explains that venues like the cruise terminals didn’t exist before, and are unique in the city as having the best views.

“Many uptown venues just can’t offer the views the port does. It was great to be on the water, and that rooftop patio is terrific.”

“Our guests appreciated all the free parking, too,” says Nick. “It wasn’t a deal breaker for us, but it really mattered to our guests.”

Liz found that having the reception at the Port gave her the freedom to make her vision come to life.

Liz and Nick 2.jpg

Fundy Room in Diamond Jubilee Cruise Terminal, set for Liz & Nick’s wedding (Photography by Judith & Jordan)

“One of the great things about the port is that you aren’t forced to use just one supplier. You have four caterers to choose from, and you can choose any decorator or DJ you like – so you can really put your own stamp on your event,” she says.

“The port staff were so supportive. They were there for us whenever we had a question or needed something in the days leading up to the event,” says Liz. “I can’t recommend the cruise terminals as venues enough. They are the best uptown venues available.”

To learn more about Port Saint John venues visit:


Looking ahead with optimism: Port Saint John Strategic Plan 2016-2020

cover for webIn an economy that is creating headlines for all the wrong reasons, Port Saint John’s five-year strategic plan is a ray of optimism and a testament to good planning.

Over the past few years, the Port has redefined and re-positioned itself, attracted new customers, and experienced double-digit growth.

Jim Quinn, President and CEO, attributes this positive trend to having a strong plan.

“Five years ago, we put a strategy in place to re-introduce our port to the global shipping community with the goal of growing our business and modernizing our facilities,” says Quinn. “Thanks to a great team of Board, management and staff, we’ve successfully executed initiatives in all our business areas – and our growth is a reflection of that work.”

Looking forward over the next five years, the Port is remaining focused on the guiding principles set down by the Canada Marine Act:

  • Maintaining financial self-sufficiency
  • Maintaining strategic significance to Canadian trade
  • Maintaining a link to rail and highway infrastructure
  • Maintaining a diverse cargo base

With priority initiatives including sustainable business development, product diversification, infrastructure renewal and land use planning, Quinn says the next five years will be exciting times for the Port.Strategic Road Map 2016-2020

“During the next five years we will be investing in modernizing our facilities, which will strengthen our position as one of Canada’s leading ports. That’s exciting for all
of us here, and I am sure for people throughout our community
because it will position us for continued growth.”

The Port has carefully positioned itself as an agile solution provider, which is paying dividends both on the home front and with customers around the world.

“We have great natural advantages, and excellent intermodal connectivity ,” says Quinn. “What makes us exceptional, however, is that we offer a willingness to continuously innovate, to think outside the box and to take a positive solutions-based approach to the challenges we encounter. We want our customers see us as a responsive and collaborative trade facilitator, and our local stakeholders to see us as a community builder and a tool for prosperity.”

Global economic forces including the price of oil, and the value of Canadian dollar, will certainly have an impact on growth forecasts, but Jim Quinn remains optimistic:

“The global economy presents many challenges for the entire transportation sector, but it also provides opportunities. We are ensuring our Port takes every advantage of these opportunities, from the attractiveness of export trade due to the low dollar, to Canada’s progressive approach to lateral and multi-lateral trade agreements.”

But bottom line, he says, is this: success requires diversity, and good people to make it happen.

“Diversity in our business is a key to success. Maintaining existing areas of our business, while incorporating the flexibility for continuous improvement and exploring new business provides opportunity for continued growth even if one particular sector experiences a slowdown due to varying market conditions or economic cycles,” says Quinn. “Diversity is our advantage, and our people are our strength.”