The president and chief executive officer of the Montreal Port Authority (MPA), Dominic J. Taddeo, officially marked the beginning of a new year of activity at the Port of Montreal today by presenting the Gold-Headed Cane to Croatian Captain Tonci Krzanic, master of the containership CP Bravery, the first oceangoing vessel in port in 2006.

The awarding of the prestigious prize took place at a ceremony attended by Montreal’s entire maritime industry. The 167th ceremony of the kind also saw the MPA acknowledge pilots Michel Caron and Claude Marcil of the Pilotes du Saint-Laurent Central, who safely guided the CP Bravery to its berth at Cast Terminal.

By crossing the Port of Montreal’s downstream limits on January 1st at 0:20, Captain Krzanic has become part of port and transatlantic marine history.

Proud symbol of ocean navigation

The master of the CP Bravery, Captain Krzanic, was born in Pula, Croatia. With 28 years at sea now under his belt, he has been captain since 1999. On January 1, 2006, he added another feather to his cap by winning the Gold-Headed Cane after only four and a half months as captain of the CP Bravery. It is a well-earned victory for this proud navigator, who was on his third attempt to claim the prize.

Captain Krzanic’s ship, the Bermuda-flagged CP Bravery, arrived from the Port of Lisbon (Portugal) after a 10-day voyage that included stormy weather on the North Atlantic. This containership has a capacity of 1,700-teus, and is operated by CP Ships. It docked at 04:01 on January 1, 2006 at Cast Terminal, a facility leased by the MPA to Montreal Gateway Terminals. It left shortly afterwards for the Spanish port of Valencia.

Increased traffic

‘Captain Krzanic’s feat reminds us that the Port of Montreal is open in all seasons, that it links our city to more than 100 countries around the world, and that the vitality of port activity, especially container activity, reflects the strength of our economy and Canada’s international trade growth,’ said Mr. Taddeo.

The Port of Montreal is an international trade hub whose economic spin-offs reach close to $2 billion annually. Some 18,000 jobs depend directly or indirectly on the port.

In 2005, traffic at the Port of Montreal continued to grow, with total tonnage of approximately 24.2 million. Of that, 11.1 million tons was containerized traffic. Year 2005 also represents a fourth consecutive record year in the containerized sector. The liquid-bulk sector, especially petroleum products, also contributed to traffic growth.

A proud maritime tradition

The Gold-Headed Cane is a long-standing maritime tradition that dates back to 1840, or 10 years after the creation of the Montreal Harbour Commission, now the MPA.

Originally, the goal of this tradition was to promote maritime links with Europe and speed the opening of the navigation season in Montreal, which was otherwise cut off from the rest of the world by ice. In 1964, the awarding of this prize became a New Year’s tradition when Danish vessel Helga Dan inaugurated all-season navigation to Montreal on January 4, 1964.

Before 1880, the first captain arriving in spring actually received a top hat. Today, the winner receives a Gold-Headed Cane, and has his name added to the ‘Gold-Headed Cane Wall of Fame’ inaugurated last year for the port’s 175th anniversary, joining the names of all the other captains having earned the honor.