January 6, 2020
Ports of Montreal and Quebec award traditional gold-headed canes
The Montreal Port Authority officially inaugurated the start of a new year of activity by presenting the Gold-Headed Cane to Captain Qin Xiao Fei, Master of the bulk carrier Exeborg, the first ocean-going vessel to reach the Port of Montreal without a stopover in 2020.
The Exeborg left the Port of Sauda, Norway, on December 21 and crossed the Port of Montreal's limits on January 3 at 2:11 a.m. It docked early Friday morning at berth 42.
At the Port of Quebec the Gold-Headed Cane was to be awarded to Captain Sergey Teplov, commander of the ship Apollon, the first ocean-going vessel from a foreign port to dock at the Port of Quebec docks in the New Year. The Apollon, a tanker ship that sailed directly from Port Arthur, Texas, arrived at 2:20 a.m. on January 1st.
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.