PortsToronto celebrates 161st annual Top Hat Ceremony with the arrival of the first ship of the season

Toronto (March 28, 2022) – In a sure sign that spring is here, earlier this morning, PortsToronto “crowned” Captain Dorde Perovic of the MV Chestnut with an antique top hat – first presented in the spring of 1861– at the annual Top Hat Ceremony. For the past 161 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.
PortsToronto Assistant Manager of Harbour Operations Helen Oel “crowns” Captain Dorde Perovic of the MV Chestnut during the Port of Toronto’s 161st annual Top Hat Ceremony.

Appropriate precautions were taken to ensure that this longstanding tradition could safely take place given ongoing, albeit reduced, public health restrictions. Captain Dorde Perovic participated in the ceremony from the bridge of the MV Chestnut while PortsToronto Assistant Manager of Harbour Operations, Helen Oel, remained on the dock wall.
Imports of cement, steel, sugar and salt moving through the Port of Toronto and directly into the heart of Canada's largest city in 2021 surpassed 2.2 million metric tonnes for the fifth consecutive year. Bypassing trade gateways disrupted by the pandemic, Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway shipping routes remained reliable and congestion free, reinforcing the Port of Toronto’s important role in the national supply chain. Overall, 190 cargo vessels visited the Port of Toronto in 2021, delivering a range of  bulk, project and general cargo products totalling 2,295,815 metric tonnes – a four per cent increase from 2020.
“The Top Hat Ceremony is a 161-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. “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 2022 shipping season and beyond.”

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 first ship was given $100 in a briefcase, and the top hat, which served as the “key to the city’ for a 24-hour period enabling the captain and crew to eat and drink for free.
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 Chestnut, which arrived in the Port of Toronto from Maceio, Brazil with 19,000 metric tonnes of sugar for the Redpath Refinery. The annual ceremony also celebrates the commencement of the 2022 shipping season.

About the Port of Toronto
Since 1793, the Port of Toronto has served as Toronto’s gateway to the St. Lawrence Seaway and to marine ports around the world. Serving primarily as a bulk cargo destination, the port boasts a unique location minutes from Toronto’s downtown and moves goods from countries as far away as Germany, South Korea, China, Brazil, Australia, South America and the United States. In addition to managing the movement of ships through the harbour, PortsToronto is the owner and operator of Marine Terminals 51, 52 and the Cruise Ship Terminal within the Port of Toronto.
The Port of Toronto is one of Canada's inland ports and is situated on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario. Located minutes from Toronto's downtown core, the Port provides a seamless network of cost-effective intermodal links to road, rail and air transportation, serving as a unique and crucial piece of economic infrastructure. Marine cargo arriving and managed at the Port of Toronto generated $377.7 million in economic activity and 1,566 jobs in Ontario in 2017. Port also welcomes cruise ships and passengers from around the globe through the Cruise Ship Terminal.
Take a virtual tour of the Port of Toronto to learn about the important role the Port plays in Canada's transportation network as well as the environmental benefit of marine transportation.
About PortsToronto
For more than 100 years PortsToronto has worked with its partners at the federal, provincial and municipal levels to enhance the economic growth of the City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. PortsToronto owns and operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which welcomed approximately 2.8 million passengers in 2019; the Outer Harbour Marina, one of Canada's largest freshwater marinas; and, Marine Terminal 52, which provides transportation, distribution, storage and container services to businesses at the Port of Toronto. PortsToronto is committed to fostering strong, healthy and sustainable communities and has invested more than $12 million since 2009 in charitable initiatives and environmental programs that benefit communities along Toronto's waterfront and beyond. PortsToronto operates in accordance with the Canada Marine Act and is guided by a board with representation from all three levels of government.
Media Contact:
Jessica Pellerin
Manager, Media Relations and Public Affairs
Cell: (647) 298-0585
E-mail: jpellerin@portstoronto.com