The Ministry to Seafarers (M2S)

About the Port of Montreal

Two-thirds of Canada's international trade flows through Montreal. More than 2,000 ships visit the port each year.

The Heartbeat of the Country

Hey there, Canada! Look around at all the things you own, buy and consume. There's a good chance it has made its way to you through the Port of Montreal, the second-largest container port in Canada. But it is more than just a container port — it's actually made up of 19 terminals that handle a wide variety of goods, such as:
  • containers (clothing, food, electronics, furniture, pharmaceuticals, and thousands more)
  • liquid bulk (gasoline, crude oil, diesel oil, aviation fuel, ethyl alcohol, molasses, and more)
  • dry bulk (iron ore, salt, sugar, industrial sand, gypsum, fertilizer, and more)
  • grain
  • non-containerized cargo (vehicles, locomotives, railway tracks, wind turbines, and more)

In addition, an estimated 50 cruise ships and 70,000 passengers and crew members sail in and out of the Iberville passenger terminal each year. The Port of Montreal truly lives up to its billing as the heartbeat of the country!

Seafarers and The Port of Montreal

How M2S and Mariners' House work to make it a safe harbor

To understand the impact of M2S and Mariners' House on the lives of seafarers, there are a few important things you should know about the Port of Montreal.

Most people think of the Port of Montreal as a typical "harbor" where ships are moored in close proximity, and where the surrounding city is just a short walk away. They imagine a place where it is easy for seafarers to get around and manage on their own.

This couldn't be farther from the truth.
The reality is that the "harbor" is a long, narrow strip of riverside quays that runs from the heart of Montreal eastward along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River for 26 kilometers! Many of its 100+ docks and mooring points are far outside the city's downtown core, some even beyond the limits of public transportation.

For visiting seafarers, especially first-timers, this creates many truly daunting challenges that M2S and Mariners' House combine to help overcome. 

TRANSPORTATION Challenges for Seafarers

The only options for seafarers who have no access to public transit are walking or taxi. For the average seafarer, a 30-40km round-trip taxi ride into the city is a huge expense. Walking is not worth the effort, because there are often no services or amenities in the vicinity of the isolated mooring points. 
Even for those docked within reach of public transit, it is no small task to have to figure out how and where to navigate on your own, especially if you speak neither English or French. The only safe, reliable and affordable alternative for seafarers is the free shuttle service we offer anywhere in the Port of Montreal.

COMMUNICATION Challenges for Seafarers

While on ship at sea, most seafarers do not have access to the internet or cell phone service, and therefore cannot contact their families regularly. Combined with long contracts of six to nine months, time spent interacting with loved ones is precious.
Without regular ship visits by our chaplains during which they can purchase phone cards, or without the opportunity to use the free Wi-fi connection at Mariners' House, there is sometimes no other option for them but prolonged isolation on-board ship. 

HEALTH & SAFETY Challenges for Seafarers

If a ship's crew are experiencing unsafe or unjust conditions on board, these are less likely to be noticed at isolated docking points unless regular ship visits are made. M2S chaplains are sensitive to these types of situations, and are prepared to intervene with the help of the appropriate authorities.
For any urgent health-related needs, or medical emergencies, M2S has access to a medical doctor who volunteers his time and expertise for seafarers.