Purchase Negotiations Underway
The Marathon & District Historical Society has kicked off a project to enhance Marathon as a tourist attraction, and preserve fond memories for folks from the Marathon – Pic River area at the same time. At one time, the tug “Peninsula” towed vast rafts of wood from the mouth of the Pic river into Peninsula Harbour at Marathon. Currently owned by Gravel and Lake Services Limited in Thunder Bay, she is still at work, apparently, the only tug in her class for which this can be said.
The Marathon District Historical Society is looking into purchasing the “Peninsula” and moving her to a well-earned retirement, prominently located in Marathon. Preliminary negotiations have started at $100,000.00 to buy her back, and the overall cost of purchase, transfer, and permanent relocation is estimated to be $200,000.00. The town of Marathon is located on the Canadian shore of Lake Superior, approximately 400 km./250 mi. west of Sault Ste. Marie.
Built to Bring Home Damaged Atlantic War Ships
The “Peninsula” has quite a history. She was built late in the Second World War for the Canadian Navy. She was used as an oceangoing retrieval tug, and was launched on 29 Nov, 1943 at the Montreal Dry Dock. During the latter part of WWII and shortly thereafter (1944-1946), the tug sailed under the name Norton-W31. At the time, the “Peninsula” was the only tug available for salvage work in the Western North Atlantic. The tug retrieved damaged frigates and battle-class trawlers, towing them into safe harbor, largely in Nova Scotia. [Specific details of her military activities are available from The Marathon and District Historical Society.]
A New Life on Lake Superior
In early 1946, having been declared surplus, Norton-W31 was sold to Marathon Paper Mills, and began her new life on Lake Superior. She was renamed the “Peninsula,” in honour of the town that would be her new home. Peninsula is the town which was later to become known as Marathon. Her first captain was George Matheson, then the youngest Captain on the Great Lakes. Apparently the last of the Norton Class tugs still in service in Canada, the “Peninsula” may well be the sole remaining exemplar of those rugged WWII retrieval vessels.
The Marathon & District Historical Society proposes to bring the tug home as a symbol of the town, and as a tourist attraction, much like Wawa’s goose and Dryden’s moose. The small lake freighter D.C. Everest, which served the mill at Marathon, was scrapped before memorabilia could be obtained from her. The historical society proposes that the “Peninsula” be rescued from the same fate, in order to preserve a piece of Marathon’s and Canada’s history. The society’s plan is to bring the tug home and to position the vessel at the base of Stevens Avenue, where she would be in prominent view, overlooking the harbour from which she sailed from 1947 to 1981.
Support Efforts to Protect Lake Superior’s Maritime History
The Marathon & District Historical Society is reaching out to anyone who supports Lake Superior maritime history to participate in fundraising efforts. The society says that all sponsors will be suitably recognized. The society is a charitable organization and all donations are tax deductible.
Donations can be made to: Marathon & District Historical Society, P.O. Box 728, Marathon On., P0T 2E0, CANADA or online here through Canada Helps.
Stan Johnson is the president of the Marathon & District Historical Society and can be reached at sbjohnson at sympatico dot ca.
The Lakehead University climate change forum held on September 28th and 29th was wide-ranging, well-attended and vocal. Diverse perspectives were presented and discussion was often boisterous. The language of the conference was down-to-earth, not academic, and participation was balanced between Lakehead University students, faculty, members of the broader regional community and visiting guests.
About 150 people attended the conference, which explored topics like “Water and Lake Superior,” “The Bio-economy,” “Climate Modelling” and “Social Impacts.” The forum was not a series of lectures but rather an opportunity for discussion and dialogue. Audience members were encouraged to engage in discussion with panelists as well as one another.
Day one of the forum was held in the student cafe and included a climate change overview, a “photovoice” exhibit entitled, “Picturing Climate Change in Thunder Bay: Urgency, Hope, and Action,” and a student debate about whether enough is being done to deal with climate change. Additionally, Sherilee Harper gave a presentation about how climate change is affecting Indigenous peoples and Kelsey Jones-Casey provided an overview of her interviews with Lake Superior watershed residents, relating their perspectives on climate change. Accompanying Kelsey were residents of places like Red Lake and Nipigon, telling their own stories, in person, about life on the land and the changes they had observed.
Range of Topics
The second day of the conference involved 4 panel discussions. The “Water and Lake Superior” panel provided information about the wide range of activity related to climate change already taking place in the Superior watershed. The session was also an attempt to transfer information between communities with lesser and greater ability and resources for dealing with climate change. Indigenous and non-indigenous communities from around the Lake Superior watershed were represented. The Lake Superior Climate Change Impacts Report provides additional information about climate and Lake Superior.
The “Climate Modelling and Data Use” panel provided an overview of climate modelling and then examined the gap between models and real world conditions. Noting extensive damage from several major floods around Lake Superior in the last several years, participants agreed there is need for additional precipitation data or “coverage”, stressing that precipitation can vary significantly even between nearby locations.
The “Bio-economy and Climate Mitigation” session dealt with sources of carbon emissions, noting contributors like transportation but pointing out that sectors like plastic production, while not often mentioned, are also very important. The session examined the discrepancy between various parts of the world in their ability to deal with climate change. Second and third generation fuels like woody biomass were also discussed, especially since these fuels do not impact foot costs and are more abundant than agricultural products. Information about a local bio-fuel project at Confederation College in Thunder Bay was also presented.
The panel about the social impacts of climate change entitled, “Community Awareness Perspectives” concluded Day 2 proceedings. The session provided information about health impacts, food security, community initiatives and activism. As with all of the topics, audience members engaged with both panelists and other attendees, giving voice to a wide range of perspectives.
Participation included representation from U.S. Tribes and Canadian First Nations and a Day 2 presentation entitled, “First Nations and the Front Line of Climate Change” provided first-hand experience about efforts to bridge communities, cultures and efforts dealing with climate change. Representatives of the Red Rock Indian Band at Lake Helen near Nipigon as well as the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Minnesota participated on the panel.
Support for the forum was provided by the Lakehead University Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy, the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada.
A documentary film festival celebrating the outdoor lifestyle, water-rich environment and resilient spirit of the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest…
Marquette, Michigan will host the second annual “Fresh Coast Film Festival” celebrating water, the Great Lakes, the outdoors and Midwest spirit. This year’s festival runs from October 19th through 22nd. Marquette is a beautiful town situated on the south shore of Lake Superior. The history of the town is closely linked to Lake Superior and considerable effort has been focused on preserving historic architecture.
Adventure films from around the world will be shown but organizers say they hope to build a culture of “Great Lakes storytelling.” The festival is meant to attract environmental thinkers, athletes, media professionals and the outdoors industry. The festival also promotes Marquette’s many micro breweries, restaurants and even the area’s vivid fall colours, which could be at their height. In essence, festival organizers hope to immerse participants not only in film, but also in the wide range of activity and enjoyment Marquette has to offer.
The Fresh Coast website sums things up best:
Fresh Coast will be held annually in October during the height of fall color season in the Lake Superior harbor town of Marquette, Michigan. Here the waves of an inland sea crash on the bedrock remains of the ancient Huron Mountains. A red lighthouse winks across the water at thousand-foot freighters slipping through the fog. Singletrack trails link a historic downtown with world class mountain biking, trail running and waterfalls. After a day of play, a vibrant brewing and dining scene rewards hard work with ingredients and inspiration drawn from the crisp clean waters of the world’s largest body of fresh water, Lake Superior. We think you’ll like it here.
Trans-Canada Corporation has ended its bid to build the Energy East pipeline. Trans-Canada had pitched the 4,500 km./2796 mi. pipeline as an effective means for moving approximately 1.1 billion barrels of oil per day from landlocked Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries and a marine terminal on the Atlantic coast in New Brunswick.
The company also announced it has ended its bid to build the Eastern Mainline Project. The project would have added new gas pipeline and compression facilities in Southern Ontario, where there is an extremely strong industrial and residential market for Trans-Canada products.
The October 5th statement from Trans-Canada says, “After careful review of changed circumstances, we will be informing the National Energy Board that we will no longer be proceeding with our Energy East and Eastern Mainline applications.”
When the Energy East project was first announced in August of 2013 the “spread, ” or premium, for selling oil on the world market as opposed to the North American market stood at $3.42. On October 5th, 2017 the spread was nearly double that at $6.12. On the other hand, while production costs have been relatively stable, the price of oil has declined dramatically. The following chart lays out historical pricing, showing that the North American price has fallen by over half as Trans-Canada developed the Energy East project.
|YEAR||NORTH AMERICAN PRICE||WORLD PRICE||SPREAD|
Previous National Energy Board hearings on the Trans-Canada application were voided in January after the hearing board was accused of bias.
Previous Infosuperior articles about pipeline construction:
Dec. 14, 2016 – “Right Through Here”
January 20, 2017 – “The Path of Least Resistance“
LAKE SUPERIOR EVENING
7 P.M to 9 P.M.., October 17th
Moose Hall, 6 Stevens Ave.
1. Peninsula Harbour’s “Thin-layer Cap” Environmental Cleanup Project
2. Peninsula Harbour Environmental Monitoring, an Overview
3. CPR Construction in the Peninsula Harbour / Heron Bay Area – A Brief History – 1883-85
Free of Charge – Refreshments will be Served – More Information
Presented by the Peninsula Harbour Remedial Action Plan
The net water supplies to Lake Superior were above average in August. The level of Lake Superior rose 4 cm/1.5 in. last month, while on average the lake rises 1 cm/0.4 in. in August. The Lake Superior level at the beginning-of-September is 25 cm/9.8 in. above average, 9 cm/3.5 in. above the level recorded a year ago at this time, and 59 cm/23 in. above its chart datum level.
The net water supplies to Lake Michigan-Huron were near average in August. The level of Lake Michigan-Huron fell 4 cm/1.5 in. last month, which is the average decline in August. The level of Lake Michigan-Huron is 44 cm/17 in. above its long-term average beginning-of-September level, 16 cm/6 in. higher than it was a year ago, and 96 cm/37 in. above its chart datum level.
The level of Lake Superior is expected to begin its seasonal decline in September, and the level of Lake Michigan-Huron is expected to continue its seasonal decline.
Minnesota Pollution Control provides the following invitation for applicants with the skills necessary to coordinate environmental cleanup in Duluth/Superior Harbour.
Dear Great Lakes Friends,
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is seeking applicants for the St. Louis River Area of Concern Coordinator in Duluth, MN.
This position is a tremendous opportunity to complete work on one of the most exciting projects in the Great Lakes.
This position provides regional and bi-state coordination of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) leadership of and participation in implementation of the St. Louis River Area of Concern (SLRAOC) Remedial Action Plan. The position is responsible for administering and coordinating the implementation of the St. Louis River Area of Concern Remedial Action Plan with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and for ensuring all priority actions are completed.
This position will direct and coordinate bi-state, inter-agency and externally focused program activities to achieve consensus among individuals and groups in order to resolve complex and sensitive environmental problems, issues, and conflicts. This position will lead teams in the development and implementation of statewide, multi-disciplinary, agency-wide programs and projects involving great complexity, little or no precedent, and significant public and legislative interest. This position will lead and coordinate Minnesota’s efforts with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and ensure active participation by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
This position requires extensive coordination with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, United States Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan agencies as necessary. This position requires internal coordination between the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Remediation, Environmental Analysis and Outcomes and Operations Divisions. This position will also coordinate with the St. Louis River Alliance, the official SLRAOC citizen’s advisory committee, as well as other local, state and federal stakeholders as necessary.
The position will manage and oversee some of the most technically, socially and politically complex project work in the Great Lakes and will foster coordination between all parties to ensure full and timely implementation of the St. Louis River Area of Concern Remedial Action Plan including timely removal of beneficial use impairments and delisting of the SLRAOC.
How to Apply
To apply and for additional information about the application process go tohttp://www.mn.gov/careers. Search Pollution Control Agency Job ID #16498. Please apply by October 3, 2017.
Please share with friends and colleagues you think would have an interest in this position.
The photos are stunning. Haunting. Compelling. They are photos which lead you in, tempting you to explore…further, in a cold, underwater environment, some 265 feet below the surface of Lake Superior. These are, perhaps, the best photographs ever taken of “The Gunilda”, a ship that went down in 1911, over 100 years ago, in the Canadian waters of Lake Superior, near Rossport, Ontario.
Infosuperior was fortunate enough to talk to two people who dove the Gunilda this summer. A podcast, linked here, allows you to hear what it is like to carry out a dive to a beautiful wreck, in the deep waters of Superior. We’ll let Jitka Hanakova and Becky Kagan Schott tell their own story about diving the Gunilda. First though, a little background…
At 195 ft. in length, with a draft of 12 ft, the ship was actually a yacht. In fact, the Gunilda sailed under the burgee of the New York Yacht Club. It was built in Leith, Scotland in 1897 with a steam engine and a top speed of 12 knots. By any standards, the vessel was one of the foremost yachts in the world at the time, akin to what we would call a super yacht today. Indeed, the vessel had sailed many parts of the world, including the Caribean, and of course, the Great Lakes. The vessel was owned by William Harkness.
William Harkness, was born in Ohio in 1858 and died in 1919. William was a Yale University graduate and in 1896 inherited his father’s large share in Standard Oil, also moving from Cleveland to New York in the same year. William became a member of the New York Yacht Club and while the wreck of the Gunilda was a major loss, the family also had several other yachts, among them the 215 ft. Agawa, (later renamed the USS Cytheria) also the Wakiva 1 and 239′ Wakiva Two.
In 1911, Lake Superior fish stocks were strong and the population crash induced by factors like sea lamprey had not yet taken place. Rossport was a thriving fishing community with excellent shelter for vessels. The fishermen of Rossport owned economical, home-built, very sea-worthy vessels, patched together with materials at hand. The only purpose of such vessels was to “make them pay,” that is to bring home marketable fish. A vessel like the Gunilda, on a liesurely cruise of the Rossport area, would hardly have gone unnoticed and was likely a fascinating sight to the people of the village. Many villagers were deeply connected to the lake and dependent on vessels they’d built with their own hands to make a living.
The Gunilda wrecked on McGarvey Shoal, not far from the village of Rossport, near Copper and Wilson Islands. Today’s Canadian charts show 4 feet of water over McGarvey Shoal. The “Great Lakes Pilot” for Lake Superior, a book produced by the Candian Hydrographic Service, describes McGarvey Shoal as follows, “…less than 6 ft. over it, lying 4 cables north of Copper Island, is formed by large boulders. It has deep water about it with the exception of the southeast end, where the 27 ft. bank extends for a cable.” [a cable is one tenth of a nautical mile or approximately 600 ft./183 m.]
It is not known exactly why the vessel went aground on a summer’s day (August 11), 1911. Accounts provide no mention of rough seas or heavy winds and in fact boaters familiar with this area know the Rossport Islands as extremely scenic and also relatively protected. There would have been no shortage of locals more than willing to act as pilot. This would allow the added advantage of seeing this very large yacht first-hand, from the deck, as well as earning a little extra income.
It is known however, that Harkness chose not to hire a local pilot. Once on the rocks of McGarvey shoal, all passengers were brought to shore with a tug, leaving their belongings in their respective staterooms. All accounts provide no sense of panic and are almost serene in nature. A second tug would have been necessary to pull the ship off the rocks but it is well documented that Harkness chose not to pay for this assistance.
Initially resting on McGarvey shoal with the bow well up on the reef, the vessel slipped off the rock during salvage efforts, into about 270 ft. of water. The Harkness family contended the ship was worth about $132,000 dollars. They received $100,000 compensation from the ship’s insurer, Lloyds of London.
It’s not know whether Harkness was a gambling man, but whoever was in charge of the Gunilda was certainly gambling when they cut it so close to McGarvey Shoal. The situation may have been compounded when Harkness rejected paying for a second tug to assist with salvage. On the other hand, Harkness may have simply been someone who kept his money close, deciding not to hire either a pilot or a second tug. There is also speculation that U.S. charts of that time did not show the shoal, although it is a very prominent reef. Some have speculated that vanity may have entered the picture. Harkness, at the upper echolons of the Standard Oil Company, may have felt more than capable of managing his own vessel, without any help from local fishermen.
Many efforts were made to locate and dive to the Gunilda but it was not until 1967 that the first diver made it to the wreck. In a technical sense, the depth of the wreck put it at the very outer edges of diving capability at the time. In the seventies, Fred Bronelle, who founded Deep Diving Systems Inc. and eventually used a submersible to reach the wreck, headed up one of the best-known efforts to reach the Gunilda. His dive partner was King Hague, who is mentioned in the podcast. Jitka Hanakova and Becky Schott point out that although a dive to the Guilda is still a very serious endeavour, improved technology and methods now make diving the Gunilda both practical, and safe.
Special thanks to Jitka Hanakova and Becky Kagan Schott for agreeing to this interview.
Photos of the Gunilda by Jitka Hanakova (forward/back arrows upper right).
Becky Kagan Schott is associated with Liquid Productions.
Photos of the Gunilda by Becky Kagan Schott.
A Harkness family photo album was found by chance at a New York City flea market, years after the sinking of the “Gunilda.” The photo album was embossed with the word, “Gunilda” on the front cover. The album is full of high quality photos of life aboard ship as the Gunilda cruised the Western Hemisphere, from Martinique in the Caribean, to the East Coast, to the Great Lakes. The album conveys a sense of family and gracious, liesurely living aboard a beautiful yacht.
A browse through these photos of life aboard Gunilda during her extensive voyages is well worth it. The underwater photos of Jitka Hanakova and Becky Kagan Schott, of the same vessel, over 106 years later are also worth purusing. Enjoy.
About thirty-five people participated in a beach cleanup on Nipigon Bay, Saturday, September 16th. The cleanup was focused on Rainboth point, just east of Gravel River, between Nipigon and Rossport. Parks Canada organized the event utilizing staff of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, which has an office in Nipigon. Assistance was also provided by the Nipigon Bay Remedial Action Plan. The effort was part of the International Coastal Cleanup, which takes place on the same day at locations around the world.
Participants split into two groups, one focused on the south portion of Rainboth Point and primarily focused on microbeads, the small plastic beads, or “nurdles,” which have been washing up on beaches in this part of Lake Superior for several years. The other group made their way to the eastern side of Rainboth Point to pick up any scattered debris. There are many camps and homes along the shoreline at Rainboth Point. Beautiful sand beaches form the southern extremity of the point, while a unique cobble beach forms the eastern side of the point. The eastern side has been designated as the Gravel River Provincial Nature Reserve.
The cleanup of the plastic beads, which are about the size of very small pebbles, or large grains of sand, required substantial effort. Some volunteers picked up the nurdles by hand while others utilized a screen mesh system to separate the nurdles from sand and woody debris. As the photos and video clips demonstrate (the longest clip is 21″), the problem of plastic beads washing up on beaches in Nipigon Bay is very substantial. Indeed, they almost look like snow covering the beach in some areas. Volunteers were happy to help cleanup efforts however many stated that much more effort needs to be put into prevention. This premise is based on the rationale that cleanup is difficult and it would be much easier to prevent them entering Lake Superior in the first place. Nurdles are the raw material for manufacturing all manner of plastic items. The Nipigon Bay nurdles are from a train wreck which happened in January, 2008.
Students from Lakehead University’s Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism program participated in the cleanup and tallied the volume of nurdles collected by all volunteers. They arrived at a total of approximately 34 Liters/36 quarts and a grand total of approximately 198,282 beads.
Debris scattered on beaches is nothing new to anyone frequenting sites around Lake Superior and the Great Lakes and some of the items found by volunteers on the nature reserve beach included:
- An empty oil drum with many holes and slices in the metal (and no label)
- A puffer
- a water gun (made of foam & plastic)
- 2 fishing lures
- a fabric flower (still intact for the most part)
- 20 ft of rubberized tubing
- multiple pieces of plastic, metal, and containers
- cigarette packaging
- 50 POUNDS GARBAGE TOTAL (not including nurdles – see separate tally above in this article for nurdles)
All participants enjoyed working together on the cleanup and the event was a great way for everyone to get to know one another. Additionally, several volunteers had heard of the nurdles but never seen them. This hands-on event was a great learning mechanism.
Thanks to Parks Canada and staff of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area for putting together an excellent event. Thanks to Lakehead University Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism program instructor Julie Rosenthal and her class for their participation. Thanks also to members of the Nipigon Bay Remedial Action Plan Public Advisory Committee who volunteered. A Special word of thanks to Nipigon Bay Remedial Action Plan Public Advisory Committee member Chuck Hutterli and his wife Danielle for hosting the event. Chuck and Danielle have done a great deal of work to raise awareness about the problem of microplastics in Nipigon Bay and Lake Superior.
Video clip above: Probing into Thunder Bay’s North Harbour during efforts to better characterize this contaminated area. (1’05” clip)
Go Directly to Questions About North Harbour Contamination Posed on June 7th (scroll down in the notes)
The Public Advisory Committee (PAC) to the Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan will be holding a meeting at 7 p.m. on October 18th in in the ATAC building, Room 3004 at Lakehead University. Remedial Action Plans, or harbour cleanup plans, deal with environmental impairments in Areas of Concern on the Great Lakes. Concerns include chemical, physical, and biological degradation resulting in pollution and impacts to habitat. Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting. There is no charge.
The October 18th meeting will focus on contamination in the “North Harbour” area of Thunder Bay Harbour near the mouth of the Current River. The agenda includes the following items:
- answers to questions posed by the PAC at their June 7th meeting
- determination of PAC next steps re North Harbour.
- status of environmental impairments in the Thunder Bay Area of Concern.
The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Advanced Technology and Academic Centre (ATAC) building room 3004 (located in the NW corner of 3rd floor). Free evening parking at Lakehead University is available right beside the ATAC building.
A map showing the meeting location and also minutes of the previous PAC meeting are accessible via the links bel0w:
- Map of Lakehead University Campus showing ATAC building (AT)
(enter the university from Balmoral at Beverly)
- October 18th Meeting Agenda
- Minutes of June 7th PAC Meeting.