The unmistakable aroma of molasses wafted across the Toronto waterfront as 18,920 metric tons of that sweet cargo transferred from the holds of the M/V Cape to the Redpath Sugar refinery today.
The arrival of the 30,000-ton bulk carrier of Montreal-based CanforNav, with unrefined sugar from Guatemala, marked the first ocean-faring vessel of the year to call at the Port of Toronto.
Captain Pero Mikelic, of Split, Croatia, was crowned with a 200-year-old ceremonial top hat made of silk and beaver fur. He also received an award of C$100 for captaining the first vessel to port in 2019.
The prize has been unchanged since 1861, noted Toronto Harbor Master Emeritus Angus Armstrong during a ceremony outside the bridge of the Cape marking the start of the commercial shipping season.
“Ships used to fight to get to Toronto,” Armstrong said.
The Port of Toronto, though eclipsed by its Canadian counterparts in Vancouver and Montreal, has been handling growing volumes of cargo. The port handled a record 2.2 million metric tons in 2018, including 560,625 metric tons of sugar.
For RedPath Sugar, the shipment aboard the M/V Cape would have otherwise required about 300 trucks.
“Getting these international ships is incredibly important to us,” said refinery manager Phil Guglielmi.
The construction boom in Toronto has helped drive up volumes at the port. In 2018, the port saw the single largest increase in steel rebar in 20 years.
Last year, 178 ships called on the Port of Toronto.