Montreal Port Authority (MPA) President and CEO Sylvie Vachon presented the 178th Gold-Headed Cane to Shipping Agent Denis Blondeau of SMK Tanker Agency, who accepted it on behalf of Captain Danel Ju of South Korea, master of Chem Sirius, the first ocean-going vessel to enter the Port of Montreal without a stopover in 2017. Chem Sirius left Antwerp, Belgium on December 19 and crossed Port of Montreal’s limits at 3:16 a.m. on January 1. Sylvie Vachon addressed the gathering, saying: “So soon after his arrival from Antwerp, Belgium, Captain Ju has already departed for Charleston, South Carolina aboard Chem Sirius. But this time when he returns home in March, he will be bringing with him the honour of winning the Gold-Headed Cane, reflecting a longstanding port tradition specific to Montreal. By doing so, he joins an elite group of 177 other navigators who sailed, or are still sailing the world, marked by Montreal, port of destination and of tradition!”

Several representatives from the marine industry, the Montreal business community and the world of politics attended the ceremony. Guests included MP Michel Picard, representing Marc Garneau, minister of Transport of Canada, the Minister for Maritime Affairs for the government of Quebec, Jean D’Amour, and the mayor of the City of Montréal, Denis Coderre.

When it was implemented in 1840, the ceremony recognized the arrival of the first ocean-going vessel that made it through the ice in spring to reach the Port of Montreal. Today it reminds us that the Port of Montreal has been open year round since 1964.

2017 celebrations

This marine tradition is particularly meaningful this year in light of the celebrations of the 375th anniversary of the City of Montreal and the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. Ms. Vachon said: “The port of Montreal is at the heart of these anniversaries and I am certain that our partners feel as strongly about history, as the shipping trade played a leading role in the development of the city and the country. The port was a founding component of the City and an engine for its economic and ethnocultural development. Furthermore, Montreal’s port facilities are at the heart of the settlement and development of Canada’s industrial age. Today, the awarding of the Gold-Headed Cane has greater value on the strength of this rendezvous with history and everything epitomized by the port of Montreal, a key player then and now, and resolutely focussed on the future for the benefit of all.”

Chem Sirius

Flying the flag of Liberia, Chem Sirius is a chemical tanker commissioned in 2011 and chartered by Ace Tankers CV shipping company. Its cargo was destined for storage and handling company Vopak. The tanker and its crew departed on January 1, after the quick unloading of its cargo of phosphoric acid, which is used in fertilizers, among other things.

2016: The growth continues

According to preliminary statistics, the port of Montreal handled 35.2 million tonnes of freight in 2016. This unaudited figure corresponds to an increase of more than 10 per cent in freight traffic over 2015, and represents a new record for the port.