With some special gifts in hand, the crew of the Baie St. Paul — departing the lock at Saint-Lambert in Quebec — kicked off the 63rd navigation season of one of the most important partnerships between the United States and Canada, the St. Lawrence Seaway.

"After 62 years of operation, the Seaway remains a model of international cooperation and partnership combining a rich past and an exciting future," Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation Deputy Administrator Craig Middlebrook said.

What You Need To Know

  • The St. Lawrence Seaway Opened Monday for its 63rd navigation season
  • The Seaway is considered one of the most important partnerships between the United States and Canada
  • This year, transportation officials say there will be a renewed focus on climate change

It's a past that has allowed the seaway to become a major economic driver for both countries. Over the last dozen or so years, it's received major investments to both rehabilitate certain features and modernize others.

As a trade enhancer, the seaway — which moved roughly 38 million tons of products last year — is responsible for roughly $35 billion annually and 250,000 jobs.

"Every dollar appropriated to the GLS generates $124 in economic benefit," United States Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.

As for the future, this year, there will be a renewed focus on climate change. During Monday's opening ceremony, the emphasis on reducing the seaways carbon footprint by enhancing navigation safety, fuel efficiency, and moving green infrastructure was mentioned numerous times.

"It's time to do away with the old notion that we have to choose between jobs and clean infrastructure because those two go hand in hand," Secretary Buttigieg said.

The seaway will be doing it all, while continuing to fight COVID-19. While the pandemic did hurt the bottom line last year, seaway officials says ship companies and crews were as resilient as ever and helped make the year as good as it could possibly be.

As more vaccines hit the global market and get in arms around the world, the hope is it can only get better.