Saturday, 8 April 2017

Saturday Photo: The Port of Montreal, Ice-free in April

It used to be that just about now the first ocean-going ships would make it up the St. Lawrence to Montreal.  Before then travel on the river would be dangerous or impossible because of ice.

The arrival marked the beginning of trade on the river, and stepped-up life in the city.  Since 1840 the captain of the first ship has been awarded a prize for his exploit, first a top hat, and after 1880 a gold-headed cane.  Accounts from the time say that crowds gathered in the port to greet the ship, as frequently more than one captain tried to be the first  in port. 

This year, however, the prize went to a Liberian-registered tanker  that arrived shortly after midnight on January 1.   The port has been open to year-round shipping since 1964 thanks to ice-clearing strategies.  And recently climate change has meant less and less ice on the river even in the dead of winter.

The photo was taken April 3, a glorious day when not much snow was left in sunny places and it would have been relatively easy to manoeuvre a ship into its berth.

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