Richard Clammer, fortuitously in September, was taking a fascinating cruise from Liverpool to Eastern Canada aboard the Marco Polo and there, amongst other interesting vessels, witnessed all three of CTMA’s major ro-ros, all of them with significant UK and Irish connections.
CTMA (Coopérative de Transport Maritime et Aérien) was formed in 1944 to serve the Magdalen Islands/Isles de la Madeleine which lie in the wide Gulf of St Lawrence in Quebec province. They operate year round and seasonal routes.
Their CTMA Voyageur 4,529,’72 is the former Norwegian built Sealink train ferry and ro-ro freighter Anderida which served various Sealink UK routes up to around 1980 and she has been a mainstay of CTMA freight and vehicle year round schedules for nearly 30 years from either Montreal or Prince Edward Island to Cap aux Meules. In recent years, she has mainly linked the islands to Matane on the Gaspé peninsula.
A summer season link to Souris, Prince Edward Island, taking five hours, is worked by Madeleine 6,807,’81, none other than the former Leinster of B&I’s Liverpool-Dublin route. Delivered from Verolme Cork Dockyard, she would later transfer to Holyhead and then to Pembroke Dock-Rosslare named Isle of Inishmore and briefly Isle of Inishturk.
Another still elegant former UK and Irish stalwart, CTMA Vacancier was built by JJ Sietas for Viking Line as the Aurella Iater becoming Irish Ferries’ Saint Patrick II between ’92 and ’98 being often chartered out. She was briefly back to the Irish Sea as the City of Cork on Swansea-Cork service in 2002. Moving to CTMA in ’02 she has worked for them since, seasonal cruising between Montreal and the Isles de Madeleine with many calls out and back along the fascinating and varied St Lawrence waters.