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Canada Transportations


With such a vast land area, and with most production inland, all forms of transportation are vital. Since 1945, with the rapid growth of road, air, and pipeline services, the trend has been away from railways for carrying both freight and passengers. But because they can supply all-weather transportation in large volume over continental distances, railways are still important. The federal government, through the Canadian Transport Commission, has allowed a few rate rises and has insisted on a slow curtailment of services; nevertheless, the companies have traditionally operated at a deficit or very low margin of profit because of competition and rising costs. There were an estimated 46,688 km of all standard gauge railways in 2008. Two great continental systems operate about 90% of the railway facilities, the government-owned Canadian National Railways (CNR), which was privatised in 1995, and the privately owned Canadian Pacific Ltd. (CP). They compete in some areas but cooperate where duplication of service is not profitable. In addition to their railway operations, CNR and CP maintain steamships and ferries, nationwide telegraph services, highway transport services and hotel chains.

The populated sections are generally well supplied with roads and highways, but because of difficult winter weather conditions, road maintenance is a recurring and expensive task and puts a tremendous strain on road-building facilities. In 2006 there were about 1,042,300 km of roads, 415,600 km of which is paved, including 17,000 km of expressways. The 7,820-km (4,860-mi) paved Trans-Canada Highway, a C$500-million project financed jointly by the federal and provincial governments, was completed in 1962. Canada ranks next to the United States in per capita use of motor transport, with one passenger car for every 2 persons. Motor vehicles in use in 2000 totalled 18,449,900, including 14,147,300 passenger cars and 4,302,600 trucks, buses and taxis.

Bounded by water except for the Alaskan and southern land boundaries with the US, and with many inland lakes and rivers that serve as traffic arteries, Canada makes much use of water transport in domestic as well as foreign commerce. Canada has 636 km of waterways, excluding the Saint Lawrence Seaway (3,769 km). Canada has access to three oceans, Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic. Canada's merchant fleet was comprised of 175 ships in 2008. Most overseas commerce is carried by foreign ships. Montréal is Canada's largest port and the world's largest grain port. Others among the many well-equipped ports are Toronto, Hamilton, Port Arthur, and Fort William on the Great Lakes, and Vancouver on the Pacific Coast. The Montréal and lake ports are closed by ice from December to April, during which time Halifax on the Atlantic and Saint John on the Bay of Fundy are the only Atlantic Ocean traffic terminals.

The St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project, constructed jointly by Canada and the United States, and its many canals provide an 8-metre navigation channel from Montréal to Lake Superior. The Athabasca and Slave rivers and the Mackenzie, into which they flow, provide an inland, seasonal water transportation system from the end of the railway in Alberta to the Arctic Ocean. The Yukon River is usually open from mid-May to mid-October. All Canadian inland waterways are open on equal terms to the shipping of all nations.

Canada had 1,388 airports in 2009, including 515 with paved runways. Principal airports include Calgary International at Calgary, Edmonton International at Edmonton, Halifax International at Halifax, Lester Pearson at Toronto, Vancouver International at Vancouver, Winnipeg International at Winnipeg, and Dorval International and Mirabel International at Montreal. International air service is provided by government-owned Air Canada and Canadian Airlines. Regional service is provided by some 570 smaller carriers. Air transport is the chief medium in the northern regions for passengers and freight. Canadian airlines transported 24,203,800 passengers in 2001.

1,388 (2009)

Airports - with paved runways
total: 515
over 3,047 m: 19
2,438 to 3,047 m: 18
1,524 to 2,437 m: 148
914 to 1,523 m: 251
under 914 m: 79 (2009)

Airports - with unpaved runways
total: 873
1,524 to 2,437 m: 73
914 to 1,523 m: 373
under 914 m: 427 (2009)

12 (2009)

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