The Ottawa Express, a container ship originating from Liverpool, England, is the first ship to dock in the Port of Montreal for the year 2018.

The ship arrived in the late afternoon at Berth 77 after a 10 day journey. By crossing the downstream limits of the port at Soreal earlier in the day, the ship became the first ocean-going vessel to reach Montreal without a stopover. 

Captain Rakesh Kumar will receive the gold-headed cane on Wednesday, a trophy awarded each year to the shipmaster of the first docked vessel. The cane has been awarded on an annual basis for the last 179 years. 

Kumar said that while navigating Montreal's ice-filled waterways can be tough, his ship is up to the ask.

"With the systems we have onboard, the training, the type of crew we have onboard, we manage to do everything as safely as required," he said. "It's a difficult task, no doubt about it, but it's very much within our training, experience and capabilities to manage it in the best possible manner."

Port of Montreal President and CEO Sylvie Vachon said the award, while largely symbolic, serves as a valuable reminder to the world. 

"It's an important event, it's the begining of the year. We want to tell the world the port is open all-year round," she said. "At the beginning of this tradition, the river was closed to navigation until April or May. Since 1964, it's open all year round."

- With files from CTV Montreal