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160th annual Beaver Hat Ceremony celebrates arrival of Toronto’s first ship of the season


The MV Federal Hudson and Captain Sumit Kumar won the race to be the first ship to Port, bringing thousands of metric tonnes of sugar from Maceio, Brazil to Redpath Sugar.

TORONTO, April 7, 2021 /CNW/ – In a sure sign that spring is here, earlier this morning, PortsToronto “crowned” Captain Sumit Kumar of the MV Federal Hudson with an antique silk and beaver top hat – first presented in the spring of 1861– at the annual Beaver Hat Ceremony. For the past 160 years, PortsToronto has celebrated the official opening of the commercial shipping season by crowning the captain of the first ocean-going vessel or “saltie” to arrive at the port.

Originally begun as a celebration of the first ship to enter the harbour each year, the annual tradition now celebrates the arrival of the first ocean-going ship of the season, also known as a “saltie.”

This year the first ship was the MV Federal Hudson, which arrived in the Port of Toronto from Maceio, Brazil with 22,741 metric tonnes of sugar for the Redpath Refinery. The annual ceremony also celebrates the commencement of the 2021 shipping season.

PortsToronto Manager of Harbour Operations Michael Riehl “crowns” Captain Sumit Kumar of the MV Federal Hudson during the Port of Toronto’s 160th annual Beaver Hat Ceremony. (CNW Group/PortsToronto)

Appropriate precautions were taken to ensure that this longstanding tradition could safely take place. Captain Kumar participated in the ceremony from the bridge of the MV Federal Hudson while PortsToronto Manager of Harbour Operations, Michael Riehl, remained on the dock wall.

The Port of Toronto’s first Harbour Master, Hugh Richardson, initiated the idea to entice ships to bring building materials into the harbour as early as possible each year, allowing Toronto—then a burgeoning city—to start its building season.

“The Beaver Hat Ceremony is a 160-year old tradition at the Port of Toronto, marking the annual opening of a vital marine gateway that provides Canadian and international businesses with a convenient, sustainable and cost-effective way to bring goods into the heart of the city,” said Geoffrey Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, PortsToronto. “As we collectively inch toward normalcy following a difficult pandemic year in 2020, traditions such as these are a reminder of the longstanding resilience of our marine shipping industry, which has maintained the delivery of goods to many key sectors in the Greater Toronto Area and will continue to do so throughout the 2021 shipping season and beyond.”

In 2020, the Port of Toronto moved more than two million metric tonnes of bulk and general cargo products, which represents another strong year in marine imports for the city. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020 the Port of Toronto experienced another strong year in steel imports, received the highest cement cargo levels in 16 years, and saw the return of Short Sea Shipping—demonstrating the Port’s position as a vital part of Toronto’s economic infrastructure and movement of goods.

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