Today, I attended the annual Top Hat Ceremony for the official opening of the Welland Canal at Lock 3 here in St. Catharines.
Judging from the packed house 20 minutes before the ceremony began, I didn’t arrive early enough.
Before heading up to the second floor, I made sure to sign the guestbook and pry a program loose from one of the volunteers engrossed in a conversation with one of his colleagues. Luckily, I was able to get a good seat right up front before the others joined me.
Master of Ceremonies D’Arcy Wilson kicked off the event while Niagara Regional Chair Alan Caslin shot me a “What the heck is he up to?” look. It’s a media event, Alan. I wasn’t the only one there with a camera.
After an anthem singing I could have lived without, Bowles spoke first, followed by Sutton. Bowles played a video proudly showing off the new hands free mooring system being used on the canal and throughout the Seaway.
Kathleen Powell of the St. Catharines Museum then presented the Top Hat to the captain of the Thunder Bay. The Top Hat tradition apparently dates back to the days of the fur trade, as the beaver pelts were used to make hats.
For the second straight year, I’m glad I went and again learned more about the Seaway’s importance not only to the region, but the North American economy.