A Captain’s Reward: The Golden Cane

A Captain’s Reward: The Golden Cane



The Port of Montreal preserved its long-standing tradition: the captain of the first ocean-going vessel to reach the dock at the start of each new is awarded with a precious prize: the Golden Cane.

A special ceremony was established in 1840. For forty years, the black top hat served as the main prize. Then it was replaced with a gold-headed cane decorated with the emblem of Canada and a commemorative inscription.

In the photo: the inscription reads: "From the Port of Montreal (name), to the Captain (name of the ship), the first ship in the port (year)."


The tradition of awarding the captain whose ship first reached the port in the new year is linked with weather conditions. Winters in Canada are cold and snowy.

The St. Lawrence River, on the bank of which Montreal is located, is ice-bound until the end of March and the beginning of April. In the past centuries, the technical equipment of the ships did not allow them to approach the shore until ice came down from the river. For example, in 1959, the first ship reached the port only on April 1. The first docked ship always caused a big stir among the local population.

At the end of the 1830s, a committee was set up to improve the city’s port. In 1840, its chairman came up with an idea to encourage the captains of the ships, who were the first to arrive in Montreal in the new year. It was believed that it gave the event a competitive spirit and motivated the captains to strive for victory. It was decided to reward winners with a top hat, the one that belonged to the head of the committee.

The years went by, and the mediocre reward looked more and more ridiculous. In 1880, the state’s authorities decided to present the captains of ships with an elegant 14-carat gold-headed cane. Nowadays, the approximate cost of a gift is $ 3.500.

Over time, the ships became more powerful, icebreakers cleared the way to the port for the ships. Navigability of rivers has become year-round. The countdown till the award began on January 1.

In 2018, the Golden Cane Award Ceremony was held for the 179th time.

In the photo: this year, a citizen of India, the captain of the ship Ottawa Express Rakesh Kumar won a precious trophy. His ship reached the Port of Montreal on January 1, 2018 at 11:55.


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