A very Special Gold-Headed Cane
The 175th Gold-Headed Cane presentation ceremony took place at the Port of Montreal Building’s Dominic J. Taddeo Room on January 3. The ceremony, which honours the master of the first ocean-going vessel to reach the port each year, is one of Montreal’s oldest traditions.
The event coincided with the 50th anniversary of year-round navigation on the St. Lawrence River to and from Montreal. To mark the occasion, the Port of Montreal organized a special presentation ceremony that attracted more than 250 people.
The winner of the cane is Captain Vijayendra Gurukant Chodankar, of India. He is the master of the Federal Spey.
The Federal Spey crossed the Port of Montreal’s limits on January 1 at 2 p.m. The Fednav ship had left the Port of Maceió, in Brazil, on December 14, carrying raw sugar for Lantic Sugar, a Port of Montreal client for the past 126 years.
Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority, greeted the captain upon the ship’s arrival in Montreal.
She was joined by Director of Operations Daniel Dagenais, who is now Vice-President of Operations, Félixpier Bergeron, Director of Security and Fire Prevention, and the now-retired Jean-Luc Bédard, who was Vice-President of Operations and Harbour Master.
Montreal Port Authority representatives also congratulated St. Lawrence River pilots Daniel Perron and Michel Lavallée for bringing the Federal Spey safely to Montreal from Trois-Rivières.
At the presentation ceremony on January 3, an a cappella quartet opened the festivities with a repertoire of sea shanties. They led the special guests into the reception hall where they were joined by a guard of honour composed of employees from the Port of Montreal’s Harbour Master’s Department.
Port CEO Sylvie Vachon addressed the audience. At the head table were Madeleine Paquin, President and CEO of Logistec Corporation, Marc Gagnon, Director of Government Affairs and Regulatory Compliance for Fednav, and Captain Chodankar.
Ms. Vachon then presented the Gold-Headed Cane to Captain Chodankar, who stepped up to the podium to thank his hosts. The young captain was on his first voyage as a ship’s master. He said that he clearly understood the significance of the honour, considering that his father was also a ship’s captain.He will be proud to tell his children the amazing story of how his career as a sea captain started, but later. His twins are still only a few months old. Needless to say, the new dad is eager to get home … in several long weeks.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre was among the invited guests. The federal and provincial Transport Ministers also sent video messages congratulating the captain, meaning that the three levels of government were present for the 175th Gold-Headed Cane presentation ceremony …
… as was Dominic J. Taddeo, who led the Port of Montreal for 23 years.
Captain Chodankar proudly displays his Gold-Headed Cane in front of the Wall of Fame in the Port of Montreal’s Dominic J. Taddeo Room. The names of all Gold-Headed Cane winners are engraved on the wall.
Watch a video interview with Captain Chodankar