I was writing an article that contained a reference to the CCGS Camsell, a Coast Guard icebreaker, and I got to wondering how many people knew about the history of the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) ice breakers. Thanks to the generosity of the CCG website I have been given permission to reproduce their material here. It is a very interesting story.
The following article is reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2012
USQUE AD MARE
A History of the Canadian Coast Guard and Marine Services
by Thomas E. Appleton
Development of the Canadian Icebreaker
We have already noted the influence of the Prince Edward Island winter service on the building of passenger vessels able to navigate in ice, ranging from the underpowered and ineffective Northern Light of 1876 to the handsome cruising ship Earl Grey of 1909. The main business of these ships was to maintain communications. While this evolution was unfolding, the problem of flood control on the St. Lawrence demanded attention. From earliest times ice floating down had formed an annual dam between Montreal and Quebec, causing flooding as it built up and further damage to ships when it gave way. In an attempt to control this process by keeping the ice on the move, a requirement now arose for ships whose primary role was to break ice rather than to maintain communications. As a secondary role, which Canadian icebreakers must have to provide an economic year round usage, there was plenty of work to be done in support of aids to navigation.