Helena G Receives Gold-Headed Cane as First Vessel of 2024 to Cross Port of Montreal’s Downstream Limit
Montreal, QC – On January 2, 2024, at 7:17 am, the ocean-going vessel Helena G achieved a milestone by becoming the first vessel of the year to cross the Port of Montreal’s downstream limit at Sorel without a stopover.
This longstanding tradition, dating back over 185 years, was marked by the Montreal Port Authority (MPA) awarding the prestigious Gold-Headed Cane to Captain Eduard Voshchuk, the vessel’s master.
A Journey from Bulgaria to Montreal
The Helena G embarked on its journey from Bulgaria’s Port of Burgas on December 12, 2022, flying the flag of Portugal. The vessel, carrying a cargo of gold and pyrite, docked at Port of Montreal’s berth 43, operated by Logistec.
In a few days, the Helena G will set sail for Quebec City.
A Proud Captain and Crew
Captain Eduard Voshchuk, of Ukrainian origin, received the Gold-Headed Cane for the first time, a moment of great pride for him and his crew. The vessel’s successful Atlantic crossing, spanning three weeks, was executed flawlessly.
Captain Voshchuk’s seafaring journey began at the age of 18, following in the footsteps of his family, who have a rich maritime tradition. Sailing not only allows him to explore different countries but also to interact with diverse cultures. This marks his second visit to Montreal.
Honoring Maritime Excellence
The Gold-Headed Cane, inscribed with the captain’s name and the ship’s name, was awarded by Geneviève Deschamps, Acting President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority, during a ceremony held aboard the ship at 2:00 pm.
Geneviève Deschamps praised the significance of this tradition, celebrating Montreal’s port heritage and acknowledging the dedication of mariners, pilots, and captains worldwide who play a pivotal role in the maritime industry.
Dignitaries Extend Congratulations
Honorable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Transport, Canada, extended his congratulations to Captain Voshchuk and the Helena G crew, emphasizing the importance of the Port of Montreal in Canada’s trade.
Deputy Premier of Quebec and Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, Ms. Geneviève Guilbault, also welcomed the vessel, highlighting the role of the maritime industry in Quebec’s supply chain.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante expressed her congratulations and gratitude to the Port of Montreal for preserving this cherished tradition, emphasizing its contribution to the city’s social and economic vitality.
Preliminary 2023 Results The MPA released preliminary (unaudited) results for 2023, reporting a 2% decline in the Port of Montreal’s overall volumes compared to the previous year, attributed to global economic challenges.
While container volumes saw an 8.8% decline due to lower demand and construction sector challenges, some markets, including Asia, Ontario, and the Midwest, experienced growth.
The liquid bulk sector rose by 7.1%, notably driven by increased air travel, while the dry bulk and grain sectors remained stable.
The cruise season in 2023 showed positive signs of post-pandemic recovery, with increased passenger and crew numbers.
Please note that these preliminary results will be audited and officially presented at the MPA’s annual meeting in May.
About the Gold-Headed Cane Tradition The Gold-Headed Cane is a prestigious award presented to the master of the first ocean-going vessel to reach the Port of Montreal without a stopover in the new year. This tradition, initially marking the resumption of navigation after the winter, has evolved with the advent of icebreakers and continues to be a coveted trophy among captains worldwide.