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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n_bUSywN94.


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 forward 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.”