April 15, 2016 – It’s officially! Spring has arrived as the first ship of the season pulled into the Port of Oshawa on April 11th. Oshawa Port Authority officials welcomed the MV Wigeon and its master, Captain Monem Bachar, with a top hat ceremony, a tradition dating back to 1829 when the captain of the first ship of the year entering the Welland Canal would be presented with a lucky top hat.
Donna Taylor, president and CEO of the Port of Oshawa, said she was delighted to welcome Captain Bachar and his crew. “We’re also pleased to continue to play an important role in supporting local industry and the economy,” she said.
The Wigeon was carrying 20,000 tonnes of steel rebar from Portugal. The rebar will be used in the construction industry in Durham and the GTA and port officials say steel continues to be the No. 1 cargo item entering Oshawa’s port by cargo volume.
In 2015, 190,000 tonnes of steel moved through the port, representing just over half of the 378,000 tones of bulk cargo for the year. Overall, 49 ships pulled into port last year and cargo volume was up six per cent. In addition to steel, port officials report shipments of potash, magnesium chloride and asphalt were also up.
The port handles roughly $23 million in cargo annually which generates $6 million in federal and provincial taxes.
“As federal infrastructure funding rolls out, this will bring new opportunities to the region and the port,” said Gary Valcour, chairman of the Oshawa Port Authority. “The port’s new rail spur is well-equipped to support the planned refurbishment of the Darlington nuclear power plant as well as Highway 407 expansion.”
Top Hat Ceremony Dates Back to 1829
The first international ship to enter the Port of Oshawa through the St. Lawrence Seaway is honoured each year, during a special ceremony and presentation of the lucky top hat. This tradition began back in 1829, when the first ship entered the newly created Welland Canal, and the prestigious top hat was presented to the captain as a symbol of good luck.
The time charter owner of M/V Wigeon is Ferrostaal Steel GMBH. The general ship agent is Jonathan Van Den Ende. Oshawa Stevedoring and Local 1997 of the International Longshoremen’s Association discharged the cargo.