Canadian Manufacturing

Ontario to build pair of fully-electric ferries, the first in Canada

The two ships will carry hundreds of passengers and dozens of cars on each trip between the mainland and Wolfe and Amherst islands in Lake Ontario


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KINGSTON, Ont.—A pair of fully-electric ferries will soon connect two of the largest islands in Lake Ontario to the mainland.

The federal and provincial governments have announced joint funding of more than $125 million to build two new ferries, which will become the first non-cable vessels in the country to run on fully electric propulsion. The larger of the two ships will travel from Kingston, Ont. to wind turbine-studded Wolfe Island, while the other will make regular roundtrips between Millhaven, Ont. on the mainland and nearby Amherst Island.

“Changing the way we travel is a crucial part of our fight against climate change and our transition to a low-carbon economy,” Chris Ballard, the province’s minister of Environment and Climate Change, said in a statement. “The electrification of the Amherst and Wolfe Island Ferry is a great example of the province is taking action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and other air contaminates from transportation, a sector that contributes more than one third of the province’s emissions.”

The province estimates the electrification project will cut 7.4 million kilograms of carbon dioxide each year compared to conventional diesel propulsion—the equivalent of taking nearly 1,400 cars off the road.

The Wolfe Island ferry will have capacity to carry 399 passengers as well as 75 vehicles across the St. Lawrence River where it flows out of Lake Ontario at Kingston. The Amherst ferry, based west of Kingston in Millhaven, will carry 300 passengers and 40 vehicles. Each ferry is expected to have a 60-year lifespan.

Last fall the two tiers of government contracted Netherlands-based Damen Shipyards to build the vessels at its Galati facility in Romania. The province now says it will spending $94 million on the project, while the federal government has committed $31 million.

The all-electric Wolfe and Amherst island ferries are expected to start operation in early 2021 and 2020 respectively.


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