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The History of the CHS Central & Arctic Region


1974 – Highlights

The 13th Annual Canadian Hydrographic Conference was hosted by Central Region; the activities were divided between the Canada Centre for Inland Waters and the Holiday Inn in Hamilton.  Attendance was in excess of 200 persons with participants from Holland, the United Kingdom, Australia and Denmark as well as a healthy representation from south of the border, including Admiral Powell, Head of the National Ocean survey.

Coordination of oceanographic research in James Bay was established through a gathering of scientists at the James Bay Workshop, June 26, 1974.  By the end of the year, Central Region had established a mandate for conducting oceanographic studies in Hudson and James Bays.

The Canada/Ontario Great Lakes Shore Damage Survey was completed and an interim report was submitted to the respective Ministers of Environment Canada and Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources.  Recommendations on shoreline management, planning and protection are being considered at this time.

Several group transfers occurred in 1974.  The most notable one shifted the Tidal Instrumentation Development Group from Ottawa to Central Region.  The Great Lakes Monthly Water Level Bulletin became the responsibility of the Hydrographic Division following a similar transfer from Ottawa.

Hydrographic Surveys

In the St. Lawrence River, a large survey unit worked out of Montmagny, surveying the channels in the vicinity of Ile aux Oies and Crane Island.  Later in the season, a survey of Chenal de L’Ile d’Orleans was carried out under contract.  These surveys of the Lower St. Lawrence River were started in 1969 and are aimed at providing new charts from the Saguenay to Quebec by 1976.

In the Great Lakes, work was carried out in conjunction with inshore surficial geology studies along the north shore of Lake Erie in the general vicinity of Point Pelee.  In Lake Huron a new program was started to survey the offshore bathymetry in order to improve our knowledge of these large basins.  This used the high-speed cutter ADVENT that proved successful.  It also utilized the HAAPS (Hydrographic Acquisition And Processing System).  Locally, a survey of Frenchman’s Bay, near Toronto was completed.  A survey of Toronto Harbour was started.

The program of chart revision has now been arranged in a cyclic system.  Every second year charts of those parts of the Lake that undergo frequent change are revised and every fourth year the charts of areas that are less changeable are revised.  The large survey launches VEDETTE and VERITY worked in Lake Superior and the Lower St. Lawrence River respectively.

The program in Lake Winnipeg was in its second year.  This operation has two components.  The northern half of the Lake itself is being surveyed and the harbours are being surveyed separately.  The offshore surveys got off to a faltering start with many problems of chartering ships, instrumentation and launch failures.  Fortunately, matters improved greatly towards the end of the season and the chartered vessel LADY CANADIAN equipped with the latest automated equipment measured many productive survey miles.  The harbours of Hecla, Gull, Manigotogan River and Gimli were completed.

A very active program was maintained in the Arctic.  Hydrographers working with the Polar Continental Shelf Project and utilizing helicopters and through-the-ice sounding methods surveyed almost the entire fiord system of Eureka Sound and Nansen Fiord.  This operation was marred only by a helicopter accident towards the end, which was fortunately not fatal.

In Hudson Bay, a survey was completed of Chesterfield Inlet from the sea to Baker Lake.  This remarkable achievement resulted in CCGS NARWHAL reaching the settlement of Baker Lake, the largest ship to make this passage to date.  NARWHAL is provided by the Ministry of Transport and provided an ideal base as a mother ship for two large launches and later as an oceanographic platform in James Bay.

Ships and Launches

This year, all the Division’s outboard engine work was placed with outside contractors which alleviated much of the work load on shop personnel, allowing more time to be spent in carrying out modifications and design work on major launches.

CSL SURGE and CSL STURDY were both rebuilt during the early part of the year, with respect to decks and houses, while STURDY was re-engined using the original diesel engines from HYDRO I and II. 

C.S.S. BAYFIELD (ex HILDUR) modifications were delayed awaiting the awarding of the contract for electrical repairs, modifications to the main switch board, and necessary repairs for the vessel’s recertification from a yacht to a scientific research vessel under the Canada Shipping Act

C.S.L. SURF, a 38 foot steel-hulled launch, was acquired in a semi-completed condition early in the year and arrived in Burlington following the start of the season, too late for field operations.  However, following a fitting-out period, the vessel created great interest in both hydrographic and scientific circles mainly due to her roominess and spacious working area in the aft cockpit.

Nelson 34 – the G.R.F. diesel-powered semi-displacement hull vessel was delivered in September following trials at the supplier’s, where a top speed of 22.5 m.p.h. was obtained.  Upon acceptance trials at the Centre, the vessel was found to be a fine craft to handle, particularly smooth through the water, and having a turning circle equal to two boat lengths.

C.S.S. ADVENT performed admirably during the season with down time limited to one day and 4 hours in total.  C.S.S. LIMNOS operated trouble-free during the early part of the season, dry-docking in May for the installation of the lower spool piece and sea valve for a Magnavox Doppler transducer, part of the Sat/Nav System.  Two consecutive engine failures resulted in a loss of three weeks at the end of October and beginning of November necessitating extensive repairs on a straight through basis.  The vessel did complete her season’s work with an extended field season.

CHS Central Region Staff

Regional Hydrographer                       - A.J. Kerr
Asst. Regional Hydrographer - 

Tides, Currents & Water Levels           - N. Freeman

Marine Information Centre and Local Surveys                 - A. Rogers

U.S. Exchange Program

To US Lake Survey                             - J. Kean
From US Lake Survey                        - Lt. D. Winter

Shore Property Studies and IJC Inventory        - W. Harris

Ships & Launches                        - A. Quirk


1975 – Highlights

During the last year Central Region has made some significant changes in direction and priorities in an effort to mount a major thrust towards increasing the level of programs in Arctic waters.  This has been largely in response to an emerging government need to increase the level of hydrographic and oceanographic surveys in Arctic waters and for marine environmental reconnaissance studies associated with a resource exploitation initiative in the mid and high Arctic.

An important priority has been given to membership on two of the Regional Directors Boards.  On the Ontario Regional Board a particular thrust was made to increase participation in RSCC; the lead was taken in the coordination of the Inter-Service Exhibit at the Toronto International Boat Show, and there was also continued involvement in the Canada/Ontario, Rideau, Trent, Severn (CORTS) study.

Further major oceanographic programs are being carried out in the coming winter in James Bay, continuing throughout the summer if 1976 – a direct result of the recently negotiated James Bay Agreement.  A baseline study of the Hudson Bay Lowlands will be expanded from the estuarine research program of 1975.

Cooperation in Joint Studies continued in such areas as the Policy, Development & Planning of the Canada/U.S. Water Quality Agreement.

During the past year, the Division has built up its staff to full strength and gradually consolidated its various specialist sections.  These include the Field Surveys, Tidal, Tidal Instrument Development, Hydrographic Development, Cartography and Marine Information Centre.

Several thrusts have been made during the past year.  The most significant of these has been the launching of a major multi-parameter survey operation in Hudson Bay.  A second thrust has been to generally increase the level of operations in Arctic waters.  This has only been possible without detracting from the important ongoing southern activity by the successful development and utilization of automation.  A third thrust that is yet in an embryo stage has been to take on a modest load of chart compilation.

Significant ongoing activities include the maintenance of the cyclic program of revisory surveys, the letting of contracts to industry for hydrographic surveys and an exchange of staff with the U.S. National Ocean Surveys.

Hydrographic Surveys

The most demanding field survey has been the multi-parameter operation that has been initiated in Hudson Bay using the Ministry of Transport’s vessel CCGS NARWHAL.  The survey has been arranged with a wide grid spacing covering the entire Bay.  It is planned that in subsequent years, the grid will be densified.  This method of surveying has been facilitated by the use of SatNav Doppler sonar positioning system.  Parameters collected by the ship have included bathymetry, gravity, magnetics, and physical oceanographic and biological properties.

Also in Hudson Bay, a party has been located at Povungnituk.  This survey has been mainly shore-based but has made limited use of a small-chartered vessel, M/V GC JEWEL and the Ministry of Transport icebreaker, C.C.G.S. NORMAN MCLEOD ROGERS.

Two winter operations were conducted.  One was the ongoing Arctic Island survey supported by the Polar Continental Shelf Project and the other was a new operation in James Bay.  Both these operations involved considerable liaison with the Dominion Observatory of EM&R.  The former operation completed a survey of Nares Strait.  The latter was unfortunate in having some particularly poor ice conditions.  A special evaluation was also made under a contract with a commercial firm of a tracked vehicle equipped with special equipment for sounding through ice.

A major block of the Lower St. Lawrence River was completed when the survey reached Quebec, an operation that started at Les Escoumins in 1969.  This unit again worked from a shore base at Montmagny.  The completion of these surveys will permit the commencement of a major re-charting in metric units.

A portion of Lac St. Jean, in the area of Alma, P.Q. was surveyed under contract as the start of a program to provide improved charts for recreational boating.

In the Great Lakes, a survey of Toronto Harbour was completed.

In Lake Huron, a very successful offshore program was carried out in the vicinity of Port Elgin and reached out to the United States border.  Later in the year, a co-operative operation was started on the U.S. side of the lake using the Canadian vessels CSS BAYFIELD and CSS ADVENT. Although some initial problems were experienced with the electronic positioning systems, the operation on the U.S. side was successful.  Surveys of ports on the Canadian side were carried out in conjunction with the Lake Huron offshore work.

Further west, a party en route to Lake Winnipeg completed the survey of Thunder Bay that had been initiated last year under contract.

Once again there was a high level of activity in Lake Winnipeg. Two chartered vessels, the MV LADY CANADIAN and the MV LADY NORTHLAND, were employed on the offshore survey of the northern part of the lake. Both ships were equipped with the latest Integrated Navigation and Data Acquisition and Processing Systems (INDAPS). The Division was fortunate in obtaining the use of the large tug MV GRAND MARAIS from the Department of Public Works.  This vessel was used to support a small unit surveying the harbours of Bloodvein and Black Rivers.

Further north, a survey of Churchill Harbour was arranged under contract, on the behalf of the Department of Public Works.  The contract for this successful operation was prepared and monitored by Central Region Hydrographers.

The cyclic program was conducted again.  The large survey vessel CSL VEDETTE worked in Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, and CSL VERITY worked in Lake Ontario and the Upper St. Lawrence River.

The Canadian Hydrographic Service again exchanged one hydrographer with the United States National Survey group.

Ships and Launches

CSS LIMNOS sailed from Burlington to Port Weller for a ten-day dry dock for inspection and refit.  Although LIMNOS encountered delays due to breakdowns and bad weather, she recorded a total of 24 cruises, 182 working days and 16,358 miles, and actually provided greater support to the program than the previous season. On the return trip from the last cruise on Lake Erie, LIMNOS had the misfortune of drifting onto the canal bank resulting in a damaged propeller.  After spending two days on dry dock at Whitby, LIMNOS then completed the final cruise on Lake Ontario and returned to Burlington for winter lay-up on December 10.

CSS BAYFIELD embarked on her first full operation season, getting underway on May 12, when she sailed to the Lower St. Lawrence for a thirty-two day oceanographic program then on to Fredericton, N.B. to participate in the C.I.S. Conference. Later on from August 11-18, BAYFIELD was again outfitted for hydrographic work on Lake Huron.  She worked on the United States side of Lake Huron from Harbour Beach to Alpena, Michigan along with the CSS ADVENT which had at that time moved from the Canadian shores to Harbour Beach.  BAYFIELD returned to Burlington on October 23 where she remained on standby for hydrographic equipment trials until November 28 when these were concluded and the ship laid up for the season.  With a total of 10,417 miles and 189 operational days, the season was considered a success for BAYFIELD in her maiden year.

The NORTHERN SEAL, owned by H.C. Mullett Ltd., Lewisporte, Nfld. Was chartered in April 1975.  After arrival at Burlington on April 22, the ship was outfitted for surveillance work, which after some early mechanical and electronic problems, resulted in 19 cruises ranging from Kingston to the western end of Lake Erie.  After these cruises were completed, the NORTHERN SEAL was stripped of scientific equipment and sailed for Newfoundland on November 11.

The Lower St. Lawrence Hydrographic Survey continued operating out of Montmagny this year working westward to Quebec.  Four Botved launches, which remained at Montmagny for the winter, were overhauled by Ship Division personnel.  In addition, the launch support was increased with two Bertram launches, Hydro I and Hydro II equipped with new twin Volvo 170 engines.

The Revisory I Survey was again supported by the CSL VEDETTE and a Boston Whaler.  After C.S.I. inspection and outfitting at Burlington, VEDETTE sailed on May 14 and continued with the Revisory Survey Party into Lake Huron, the North Channel and Georgian Bay.  At the conclusion of the survey the VEDETTE returned to Burlington on August 15 and remained here until November when it was taken to Hamilton for winter storage.

Once again the CSL VERITY was assigned to support the Revisory II field party.  Along with a Boston Whaler, the Revisory party proceeded to Montreal; VERITY departing Burlington on May 12.  This survey continued westward through the St. Lawrence River and into Lake Ontario. VERITY arrived back at Burlington on August 29 with the Revisory Survey completed for the 1975 season.

CHS Central Region Staff

Regional Hydrographer                       - A.J. Kerr
Asst. Regional Hydrographer - E. Brown 


Hudson Bay                                        - B. Wright
Chesterfield Inlet                                 - J.V. Crowley
St. Lawrence River                             - R. Lewis
PCSP                                                  - J. Wilson
Revisory I                                            - J. Statham
Revisory II                                           - J. Kean
Lake Huron                                          - P. Davies, J. Wilson (Hovermarine Development)
Lake Erie Limnogeology                     - R. Treciokas
Lake Winnipeg                                    - G. Wade
Lake Winnipeg Harbours                    - K. Hipkin
Special Projects                                  - A. Rogers, F.L. DeGrasse
Tidal                                                    - R. Marshall
Horizontal Control                               - J. McCarthy
Rotation                                               - E. Thompson, G. Macdonald, A. Welmers, R. MacDougall, R. Robitaille, R. Langford, R. Chapeskie


P. Richards, G. Goldsteen, J. Weller, M. Casey, D. Pugh, J. McCarthy, G. Fenn, R. Mahaffy, K. Daeschel, R. Lasnier, G. Thompson, H. Pulkinen, C. Gorski, D. Pugh, B. Power, P. Kielland, R. Rehbein, R. Solvason, M. Crutchlow, R. Beri, J. Medendorp, D. Kimmett, J. Gervais,

U.S. Exchange Program

To US Lake Survey                             - B. Eidsforth
From US Lake Survey                        -