Captain John Croucher of the Algoma Spirit accepted the famous Top Hat from Port Colborne Mayor Bill Steele this morning.
The ceremony is an annual event celebrating the spring opening of the Welland Canal and to welcome the first ship to make the journey.
A man of few words, Captain Croucher accepted the hat, saying, "I'm honoured to be here to open the Welland Canal for 2019 and thank you very much."
Steele recounted that, after the ceremony, the Top Hat is stored in an acid-free box in the Captain John W. Sharpe Heritage Resource Centre, a climate controlled building that was built in 1995 to house more than 17,000 artifacts and archives. The hat is from the turn of the last century from England, used for the ceremony over the past 50 years. Steele also added a new item to the celebration.
"A ceremonial tuxedo scarf with the Canada 150 emblem is now part of the ceremony," he said.
Steele delivered an opening address, saying, “The Welland Canal is at forefront of Niagara’s transportation infrastructure. For a strong partnership with those in the marine industry we continue to create opportunities for marine related development within the Seaway trade corridor and within our city. We recently hosted a round table discussion with MP Vance Badawey, and members from local and regional government and members of the chamber of commerce."
He added, "All participants are eager to move forward with the Niagara trade corridor strategy.
Steele also said Badawey has informed him that, through discussions with Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau, the federal government is speeding up the Niagara Transportation corridor strategy.
“We will be moving faster than ever to make this canal - Port Colborne, Welland, Thorold, St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake even more prosperous,” he concluded.