Toronto Port Authority (TPA) officially welcomed the MV Isadora to the city’s shores on March 26 at the 152nd Beaver Hat Ceremony. The annual ceremony celebrates the arrival of the port’s first ocean vessel (known as a ‘saltie’) of the year.

Ship Captain Stanislaw Sobol was ‘crowned’ with a nearly 200-year-old silk and beaver pelt top hat by Harbourmaster Angus Armstrong at the ceremony. The Captain also received a commemorative briefcase and $100.

“The Beaver Hat Ceremony is an age old port tradition that dates back to 1861 and is a great way for us to mark the opening of the Seaway,” said Harbourmaster Armstrong. “We’re looking forward to a year of improved performance and increased shipping traffic at the Port of Toronto.”

The MV Isadora arrived from at 6:05 a.m. on March 25, carrying 21,700 tonnes of raw sugar from Veracruz, Mexico for the Redpath Sugar refinery. The trip from Mexico took approximately 15 days. The vessel is docked at Redpath and remained in port until March 28. Built in 1999, the 349,480-deadweight-tonne vessel is owned by Polsteam and is on a time-charter for New-York-based CSC Sugar. The vessel bears a Cypriot flag and its Canadian agent is Navitrans Shipping Agencies.

The antique top hat used in the Beaver Hat Ceremony originally belonged to Captain John Hooper Meade. He immigrated to Canada from England in 1828 and donated the hat to mark the arrival of the first saltie in 1861. Meade’s grandson, Captain John Allen, was Toronto’s Harbourmaster from 1925 to 1930. The port tradition originally allowed for the Captain to keep the hat for 24 hours. This was changed after several humorous mishaps took place with the historic hat. The hat is now stored in the TPA archives and brought out once a year for the ceremony.