Month: April 2019

Thunder Bay PAC Meeting – April 17 (ATAC 3004)

The central portion of Thunder Bay Harbour at the former Northern Wood Preservers site (iron ore dock foreground) prior to a remediation project to address harbour creosote. The project was completed in 2003 with support from the Remedial Action Plan.

The Public Advisory Committee (PAC) to the Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan (RAP) held a meeting on April 17th, 2019 in the ATAC Building (Room 3004) at Lakehead University.

Meeting Topics:

  • Degradation of Fish Habitat
  • Beach Advisories (swimming advisories due to high bacteria counts)
  • Thunder Bay North Harbour contamination

A detailed agenda for the meeting as well as the minutes of the previous meeting can be found below.

PRESENTATIONS

Remedial Action Plans work to address environmental, chemical, physical, and biological degradation resulting in pollution and adverse impacts to natural habitats in Areas of Concern on the Great Lakes. They are supported by Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Lakehead University. The meeting is open to the public and all are welcome to attend. There is no charge. Observers do not participate in committee decisions but may be allowed to address the meeting at the discretion of the chair.


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Great Lakes Shipping Breaking Out of the Off-season

Ice cover just over 20% on the Great Lakes on March 25, 2019. Canadian and U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking vessels will be clearing things up as the Great Lakes shipping industry gears up for spring and summer. (Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview)

The Off-season Ends When Locks Reopen


After a highly successful shipping season in 2018, ports are optimistic that 2019 will provide equally substantial traffic. Shipping within the great lakes continues throughout the winter, but to a much lesser degree because the Great Lakes’ Soo locks and the St. Lawrence Seaway’s Montreal – Lake Ontario locks are shut down for maintenance and repair.


Icebreaking ships, USCGC Mackinaw and USCGC Alder, transit through the Soo Locks. Photo from the USACE Detroit District Facebook Page (Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District)

The off-season ends when these locks are reopened and ice breakers head out to the northern ports to get things moving again; this year the CCGS Samuel Risley, USCGC Mackinaw and USCGC Alder headed north through the Soo Locks on March 20th. On March 25th, the Stewart J. Cort was the first of the shipping season’s big ships to pass through the Soo locks. The Montreal – Lake Ontario locks opened on Tuesday March 26th.


Ice Breakers


Ice cover on Lake Superior reached 90% in early March, but the ice quickly began to dissipate and is now down to about 25% according to NOAA data. But that is still more ice than the coast guard has seen in several years. Ice breakers from the Canadian and U.S. coast guards work together to create passable shipping lanes in the Great Lakes. If you are curious about where the icebreaking ships are currently located on the lake, you can look for them using the live map on marinetraffic.com (they fall under the “Tugs & Special Craft” category and are light blue).


Canadian icebreakers


The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) has an ice fleet of 15 that is dedicated to ice breaking efforts along Canadian shores on the East and West coasts, in the Arctic and in the Great Lakes. The fleet boasts 2 heavy icebreakers, 4 medium icebreakers, 9 multipurpose vessels and 2 hovercrafts. Vessels are assigned to one of three regions: the Atlantic, the Central and Arctic, or the Western Region.


The CCGS Samuel Risley, one of the Canadian Coast Guard’s light icebreakers that operate in the Great Lakes, is named after Samuel Risley, a pioneer in shipping safety regulation in the late 1850s. (Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District – On her way, Public Domain)

According to the CCG website, two Central and Arctic region light icebreakers—the medium-endurance CCGS Samuel Risley and the high-endurance CCGS Griffon multi-tasked vessels—are assigned to the Great Lakes throughout the winter, but additional vessels are used at the beginning and end of the ice breaking season.


The CCGS Griffon is the Canadian Coast Guard’s high endurance multi-tasked vessel light icebreaker. It is named after Le Griffon, one of the first sailing ships constructed to travel across the Great Lakes. (Credit: simon*** from England – CCGS Griffon on the Welland Canal, Canada, CC BY 2.0)

Canadian icebreakers active in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway on Marinetraffic.com March 30, 2019 at 12:00pm EDT:

  • CCGS Samuel Risley – Port of Thunder Bay
  • CCGS Pierre Radisson – Lake Erie
  • CCGS Griffon – northeast Lake Ontario near the St. Lawrence River
  • CCGS Des Groseillers – St. Lawrence River
  • CCGS Captain Molly Kool – Gulf of St. Lawrence

U.S. icebreakers


The USCGC Alder, also known as the “King of the Waters,” operates throughout the Great Lakes but mainly works in Lake Superior and northern Lake Michigan. (Credit: Pete Markham. Some Rights Reserved, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area’s Ninth District units are dedicated to all coast guard operations in the Great Lakes, Saint Lawrence Seaway and parts of the surrounding states. Vessels involved in icebreaking operations fall under the Cutters Unit, and include the USCGC Alder, Biscayne Bay, Bristol Bay, Hollyhock, Katmai Bay, Mackinaw, Mobile Bay, Morrow Bay, and Neah Bay. In Lake Superior you will mostly hear about the USCGC Alder and USCGC Mackinaw.


The USCGC Mackinaw is the U.S. Coast Guard’s only heavy icebreaker in the Great Lakes. (Credit: U.S. Coast Guard)

U.S. icebreakers active in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway on Marinetraffic.com March 30, 2019 at 12:00pm EDT:

  • USCGC Alder – Port of Thunder Bay
  • USCGC Mackinaw – Passing Whitefish Point destined for Whitefish Bay
  • USCGC Katmai Bay – Munuscong Lake
  • USCGC Bristol Bay and Neah Bay – Northern Lake Michigan

Links:

USACE Press Release: “The Soo Locks open as 2019 shipping season begins”

Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System: Canadian and U.S. Press Releases

CBC: “Canadian Coast Guards ‘looking for new recruits’ in video showing ice breaking process in Thunder Bay, Ont”


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Port Coldwell: A Scientist’s Song

“The Ice House,” Port Coldwell by Lawren Harris, 1923

It’s not often that a song comes along which is dedicated to life in a Lake Superior fishing community, in this case Port Coldwell.

Go directly to Dave Sills song “Coldwell Bay.”

Infosuperior readers on the U.S. side of the lake likely won’t have any idea where this is. Many Canadian readers may also have difficulty placing this community. But some readers from the Marathon, Ontario area and other communities on the Canadian North Shore will know Port Coldwell well. They grew up there. To them, it was, and in a way still is, home. Many Lake Superior fishing families, including those that fished out of Canadian North Shore locations like Jackfish Bay, Rossport and Point Magnet, had branches of the family in Port Coldwell. Now, Port Coldwell is more a place of memories, than a community.

Port Coldwell (red marker) is located some 25 km/16 mi. west of the town of Marathon, Ontario beside the Coldwell Peninsula and Neys Provincial Park.

PORT COLDWELL – INEXTRICABLY LINKED TO THE LAKE

Lawren Harris painting, “Coldwell Bay,” Lake Superior, 1923

When you enter Port Coldwell by boat, you pass through a narrow opening, unforgettable due to its high cliffs on one side, into a small harbour. The harbour has unsurpassed protection. Before the decline of the Lake Superior fishery in the mid 20th century, Port Coldwell was a thriving community—its economy and way of life inextricably linked with the lake and commercial fishing. The railway that passed through “Coldwell,” long before there were any roads in the area, provided a crucial link between fish catch and market.

SCIENCE AND SONG

The cover on Dave Sills new album Fifty.

The photo on Dave’s new album, Fifty shows a musician walking along an empty road, guitar case in hand, back to the camera. Dave is much more than a talented musician though, he’s also a scientist with a day gig.

Dave is a “Severe Weather Scientist” with Environment and Climate Change Canada in the Toronto area as well as an adjunct professor at York University. His research interests include summer severe weather (including tornadoes and lightning), low level mesoscale boundaries (including Great Lakes lake-breeze fronts and Alberta drylines) and severe weather nowcasting. You can view a list of publications co-authored by Dave Sills here. He’s also got a great website, accessible here.

DAVE’S STORY…

Let’s let Dave Sills tell us his story about Port Coldwell. We’ll link to Dave’s song, “Coldwell Bay” and also to information about his latest album, Fifty, down below. The following article is written by Dave Sills:

My name is Dave Sills and my grandmother was Agnes Jean Johnson. She grew up in Port Coldwell. She had such wonderful stories about the place, and as I looked into it more, not only were her stories shown to be true but there was even more to love about the place. 

“Port Caldwell,” by A.Y. Jackson.

PORT COLDWELL AND THE “GROUP OF SEVEN”

Agnes told the story of her mother making pies for her to bring up to the artists painting from boxcars on the tracks up the hill (“now don’t bother them!”). These of course were the Group of Seven artists that produced stunning imagery of Coldwell, Pic Island, and Lake Superior. An A. Y. Jackson painting of Port Coldwell even shows the house where my grandmother grew up (see painting directly above, her house is bottom left). It still amazes me.

I have always felt a strong connection with this region and have visited a number of times, still having family in the Schreiber area (the Glad clan – hi Cheryl!). 

PORT COLDWELL’S OWN SONG

I recently released a professionally recorded album of original songs called Fifty. One of the songs, Coldwell Bay, tells the story of the inhabitants of Port Coldwell, including a lot of the characters I had heard about over the years – my great Aunt Eileen and her husband Gideon Nicoll (tragically killed by a train), the ‘painters from down south’, the CPR clerk, loggers and miners (some of which were family members). Note that to make the song work I had to take certain liberties – hope you don’t mind.

Something special about this song is the sympathetic fiddle playing of Miranda Mulholland. She is one of Canada’s top fiddlers, and has played with the Great Lakes Swimmers, Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea, Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo, and many others, plus has her own amazing band called Harrow Fair (check out http://mirandamulholland.ca).

SO, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HEAR “COLDWELL BAY”, YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.

Hope you like it!

The song is also available via iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify, etc. – and CDs are available as well.

Dave Sills
Barrie, Ontario 

Pic Island by Lawren Harris, 1924. See the large map above to view Pic Island’s location near Port Coldwell.

THANKS DAVE

In its own small way, Infosuperior endeavours to foster interest, knowledge and respect for Lake Superior, building broader public support for restoration and protection. Thanks Dave, for making all of us more aware, and interested, in our own culture and history, with the lake as its very core.

 

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Groundbreaking Oil Spill Research from the World’s Largest Freshwater Laboratory – Information Session April 15

Researchers collect data from one of the 58 freshwater lakes that make up the International Institute for Sustainable Development’s Experimental Lakes Area. (Credit: By Sbath iisd – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Learn About Groundbreaking Research at Community Information Session

The IISD Experimental Lakes Area (IISD-ELA) laboratory, operated by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), has conducted community information sessions for the past three years in Kenora and Dryden. This year they are bringing the conversation to Thunder Bay. Vince Palace, their head scientist, will be presenting information about the groundbreaking oil spill research currently taking place at the IISD-ELA laboratory. The session is open to all and will include time for questions and comments from those who attend.

  • What: Community Information Session
  • Where: Lakehead University, ATAC building, Room AT1001
  • When: Monday April 15, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.


The World’s Largest Freshwater Laboratory

Research on the challenges that face natural freshwater bodies began at the IISD Experimental Lakes Area, the world’s largest outdoor freshwater laboratory, in the late 1960s. The site includes 58 freshwater lakes and is located in the Kenora District, Ontario, Canada. The laboratory was defunded by the previous Canadian government administration. It had been operated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada until that time. The International Institute for Sustainable Development agreed to be the long-term operator of the research facility in 2014.

To learn more about what is going on at the IISD Environmental Lakes Area follow them on social media:

Twitter: @IISD_ELA

Instagram: @IISD_ELA

Facebook: @ExperimentalLakes


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