Canada 150 icebreaker makes stops in Prescott, Brockville

Geoff Green, expedition leader for Canada C3, holds a wooden carving of the canoe depicted in the 1941 children's book, Paddle-to-the-Sea. The book follows the stoy of a young native boy in Northern Ontario who releases the boat on the Great Lakes and follows its journey. Scenes from the Canada C3 stop in Prescott, Ont. Wednesday, June 7, 2017. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

PRESCOTT – A giant icebreaker is making a voyage around Canada with stops in Brockville, Prescott and Cornwall to celebrate Canada 150.

Canada C3, otherwise known as the Polar Prince, is former Canadian Coast Guard ship that was posted in the Maritime region. She was built in 1958.

Newswatch was able to get a tour of the ship Wednesday during her stop in Prescott. She is docked in Cornwall today (Thursday).

She started her trip from Toronto on June 1. After her stop in Cornwall, Thursday, Canada C3 will continue to Labrador, through the Northwest Passage, the Northwest Territories, around Alaska, and down coastal British Columbia before arriving in Victoria, B.C.

During various stops along the way there will be people taking part in the trip who were selected through applications to represent the diversity of Canada.

“Everything that we’ve hoped that C3 could be has been coming true in terms of the science we’ve been doing. It’s become real in the last week after two years of planning and visioning what the project could be,” expedition leader Geoff Green told Newswatch.

Green runs the Students On Ice Foundation and came up with the idea. He says he came up with the idea a couple of years ago on what to do for Canada 150. “What a way to showcase we have the longest coastline in the world. That we’re an ocean nation, a polar nation. We got out the map and sketched out a journey and it came to 148 days so, well, let’s add a couple days,” Green laughed.

Green says the voyage started out to recognize Canada’s 150th birthday but took on “other layers” including a voyage of aboriginal reconciliation, science and education.

There’s a Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Legacy Room on the ship with First Nations exhibits, including the wooden canoe sculpture, based on the same artifact in the most-watched National Film Board movie Paddle to the Sea.

A painted turtle on the side of the ship was done by First Nations artist (Tyendinaga) Kirk Brant.

“It’s inspiring too because because there’s been some genuine moments happening in the first week with laughter and tears and joy and lots of learning too at all levels,” Green said.

There are also 22 ongoing science research projects on the ship, including a biodiversity scan where water samples are being taken during each stop along the way.

The four themes of the journey are youth, environment, reconciliation and diversity and inclusion. “All four of those are happening simultaneity all the time whether it’s conversations taking place, places we’re visiting and even more than that. The themes are a guiding light for the journey,” Green added.

A moment with the captain

Stephan Guy is captain of the ship – a former Canadian Coast Guard ship operator since the early 1980s. “It’s a great, great success. Above my expectations,” Guy told Newswatch.

What’s it like to pilot a nearly 60-year-old ship? “What’s good about the old ships is they’re proven. There’s no surprise. She handles very well and she’s very good ship…very capable for the trip.”

Guy said there was a lot of logistical changes to accommodate 60 guests, including the kitchens (messes) and the galley, plus a lot of painting for the red and white colour scheme.

Journey for all”

With the journey starting the Great Lakes, expedition leader Geoff Green says they could have called it Canada C4, the fourth coastline.

“It’s a journey not just for the people on board. The people on board are ambassadors for the country that are the eyes and the ears and the voice and the taste buds for all the other Canadians that can follow the journey. This a journey for all. We want to reach over 20 million Canadians.”

The ship has a camera, streaming to the internet, as well as GPS real-time data online.

Click on an image below to open a gallery of photos from our tour of Canada C3.

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