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From: Parks Canada
The former Canadian Coast Guard Ship Alexander Henry served many functions on the Great Lakes from 1959 to 1985
October 18, 2023
Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced the designation of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship (CCGS) Alexander Henry as a national historic site under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration. National historic sites illustrate the nation’s defining moments, contributing a sense of time, identity, and place to our understanding of the story of Canada.
The former Canadian Coast Guard Ship Alexander Henry is a retired light icebreaker, buoy tender, and navigational aid ship that served on the Great Lakes from 1959 to 1985. The vessel is one of the best surviving examples of the government’s icebreaker construction programme of the late 1950s and represents the Government of Canada’s commitment to marine navigation during a time of increasing industrial shipping and trade.
As the main Canadian icebreaker committed to Lake Superior, CCGS Alexander Henry provided exemplary service to marine navigation and served many functions. One of the ship’s roles was to extend the shipping season as long as possible, breaking channels in the ice from the Lakehead at the northernmost ports in the system during the freeze-up in early winter and around break-up in the spring. Alexander Henry also maintained navigational aids, bringing lighthouse keepers and supplies to the various light stations, maintained buoys during the shipping season, and performed life-saving search and rescue missions.
The Government of Canada, through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes significant persons, places, and events that have shaped Canada. Sharing these stories helps foster understanding and reflection on the diverse histories, cultures, legacies, and realities of Canada’s past and present.
The designation process under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2,200 designations have been made nationwide. To nominate a person, place or historic event in your community, please visit the Parks Canada website for more information: https://parks.canada.ca/culture/designation/proposer-nominate.
“The history of Great Lakes navigation, from time immemorial with Indigenous travellers through the entire course of Confederation, is in large part the story of this continent. The former Canadian Coast Guard Ship Alexander Henry is a part of that history and it is an honour to officially designate the ship as a national historic site. This vessel stood witness to an era of increased industrial marine navigation for the Government of Canada. National historic designations, like the Alexander Henry, encourage us to acknowledge the full scope of our history and help us reflect on how this history connects us to build a more inclusive society for present and future generations.”
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“The CCGS Alexander Henry played an integral role in supporting the shipping industry and mariners on the Great Lakes. For decades, this former Coast Guard vessel helped ensure safe transit across these inland waters. It is wonderful to see CCGS Alexander Henry be designated a national historic site, in recognition of its contributions to Canada’s maritime history.”
The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“The Board of Directors of the Transportation Museum of Thunder Bay (TMTB) is honoured that the former Canadian Coast Guard Ship, Alexander Henry – built in Thunder Bay and now a museum ship with TMTB – has been officially designated a national historic site in recognition of Alexander Henry’s historical importance in Canadian maritime history.”
Chair of the Lakehead Transportation Museum Society
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change