The Montreal Port Authority officially kicked off the New Year on Jan. 3, by presenting the Gold-Headed Cane, worth about $3,500, to the captain of the first ocean-going vessel to enter the city in 2014.

The longstanding tradition annually awards the 14-Karat gold-plated cane to the captain of the first ship to arrive in the port, without a stopover at the beginning of each year.

This year, it happened at 2:00 p.m. on Jan. 1.

The Federal Spey crossed the Port of Montreal’s limits near Sorel, arriving filled with raw sugar and waving the flags of the Marshall Islands.

The vessel’s cargo is headed to be processed at Lantic Sugar, a company that has been based in Montreal for over a hundred years.

The winning ship made its voyage under the command of 35-year-old Captain Vijayendra Gurukant Chodanka, after departing from Port of Maceio in Brazil on Dec. 14.

This was the captain’s very first command.

This year’s ceremony is especially important, as it will mark the 175th anniversary of the tradition, and the 50th year that the St. Lawrence River to Montreal is navigable year-round. Prior to that the first ship would often arrive only in the month of April.

The race for the prize was tight this year, as the second vessel of 2014 arriving only 20 minutes later.

The award  ceremony was attended by a variety of business and cultural figures, including Montreal’s mayor, Denis Coderre and Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.

--with files from the Canadian Press