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Underwater archeologists, local shipwreck society, to survey Lake Superior wrecks this summer

Jul 02, 2019 06:49AM ● By Editor
Nipigon mayor Richard Harvey, right, is president of the Superior chapter of Save Ontario Shipwrecks. Photo:  Save Ontario Shipwrecks

By Matt Prokopchuk from CBC News · July 2, 2019

Underwater archeologists with Parks Canada will be in the Thunder Bay and north shore areas this summer working with a local group that helps preserve and promote Lake Superior's shipwrecks to better map out several sites.

It will be the first of many yearly trips to the northwest by the researchers who do this type of work across Canada — including work in the Arctic uncovering the two ships lost in Sir John Franklin's failed 1845 expedition to find the Northwest Passage — said Sarah Crowell, the cultural resource management advisor with the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area.

"This team works all over Canada, taking inventory of artifacts that are located underwater and they're beginning that work here in Lake Superior this summer," she said.

"We think that each wreck tells a story [and] is a snapshot of a specific time and place in the region and these stories will help Parks Canada staff in sharing the narrative of the sites."

The archeologists will work with the Lake Superior branch of Save Ontario Shipwrecks, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to marine heritage conservation. Chapter president Richard Harvey — himself an avid diver — said preserving, as best as possible, the area's marine history is important.

"To have a full understanding of who we are, of our history, of our past, we have to do this type of research work," he said. "It's really important to be documenting what's there."

"These things are deteriorating."


The researchers will remain above the water this year, Crowell said, using sonar to essentially map three dimensional images of several known wrecks, including the Neebing, the Mary McLachlan, the Gunilda and the Ontario. The information and images gathered will be used as part of Parks Canada's displays in the region.

"People will be able to interact, because not everyone can access the wrecks, right? Not everyone can dive," she said. "So this will allow for really cool imaging of the wrecks themselves."

Crowell said she expects the archeologists will start diving at sites during future visits.

"It's a large area to cover," she said of the work to be done in stages over the expanse of the marine conservation area. "How do you eat an elephant? We'll take it one piece at a time here."

"They really do provide a snapshot of a particular space and time in the region and those are the stories that we want Canadians to be aware of."

Harvey said he's excited experts in the field will be helping uncover more of the region's marine history.

"The level of the equipment, the quality of the equipment, the quality of the work that these folks from Parks Canada [do] — they are internationally respected as some of the top underwater archeologists in the world," he said.

"What they'll be able to bring will be just phenomenal and we're really excited."


To read the original article and see related reports, follow this link to the CBC News website.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/parks-canada-shipwrecks-1.5189032

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