At Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., Collingwood, ON, the keel was laid on September 27, 1978 for their hull # 217, a new self-unloader for Algoma Central Railway - Marine Division, Sault Ste. Marie, ON. Built at a cost of $23.6 million (Cdn) net of federal government subsidies, the new vessel was to be of a smaller size than the regular Seaway-sized ships of the day (730' 00" / 222.50m) to provide service to smaller Great Lakes ports which could not accommodate the larger vessels. The new "Nova Scotia" class self-unloader was given an ice strengthened hull and bulbous bow for winter and coastal service similar to that of her Seaway size fleetmate Algobay. Algoma's intent was to have their new vessel see service on the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway, Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Canadian east coast. On May 7, 1979, Collingwood Shipyards launched their new build at a ceremony where the new vessel was christened Algoport by the new ship's sponsor Mrs. Henry R. Jackman, the wife of a former long-time Algoma Central board member. Although of similar appearance to the Algobay, due to her smaller size, Algoma considered the Algoport a "sister ship" by purpose and size to the Agawa Canyon, Algorail and Algoway. The Algoport name included the commonly used Algoma corporate ship prefix Algo" and the "port" suffix to honor the small city of Port Colborne, ON located at the Lake Erie entrance to the Welland Canal and home of the Algoma subsidiary Fraser Ship Repair.