January 3, 2017
The Montreal Port Authority officially inaugurated the start of a new year of activity by presenting the Gold-Headed Cane to Shipping Agent Denis Blondeau of SMK Tanker Agency, who accepted it on behalf of South Korean national Captain Danel Ju, master of the Chem Sirius, the first ocean-going vessel to enter the Port of Montreal without a stopover in 2017.
The Chem Sirius left the Port of Antwerp, Belgium on December 19 and crossed the Port of Montreal's limits at 3:16 a.m. on January 1. By the time of the awarding ceremony Captain Ju has already departed for Charleston, South Carolina aboard the Chem Sirius.
At the Port of Quebec the Gold-Headed Cane to was awarded to Captain Rolands Doniks of the tanker ship USMA.
The USMA arrived at 7:01 a.m. on January 3rd, the first ocean-going vessel from a foreign port to dock at the Port of Quebec docks in the New Year. Flying the flag of the Marshall Islands, the ship came to the Port of Quebec to unload a cargo of gasoline.
The tradition of handing out gold headed canes to the captains of the first ships arriving at ports along the St. Lawrence river started in the days when the river froze over in the winter. The first ships - sail ships in those days - did not make it up the river until the spring thaw. Nowadays the St. Lawrence is kept open year round by Coast Guard icebreakers.