Ted Brown of the Robert S. Pierson received the honorary "top hat" as captain of the first vessel to pass through the Welland Canal this season on Monday, according to the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre, which hosted the ceremony.

Monday marked the start of the 188th navigation season for the canal. It tied a record for the earliest opening date, set in 2007 and matched the following year. The waterway connects Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, bypassing Niagara Falls.

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