Parks Canada

Parks Canada

August 06, 2009 11:33 ET

Parks Canada's Underwater Archaeologists Believe They Have Found American World War II Plane in St. Lawrence

LONGUE-POINTE-DE-MINGAN, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Aug. 6, 2009) - Parks Canada underwater archaeologists have found what they believe is the wreckage of a U.S. Air Force plane lost in 1942 off the coast near the village of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, Quebec, announced The Honourable Christian Paradis, Regional Minister for Quebec, on behalf of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada.

"This is a very significant discovery," said Minister Paradis. "This plane is a testament to the collaboration between Canada and the U.S. during the Second World War. It also rekindles memories of courage and strength for the community of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan in Quebec, which was involved in the rescue of four survivors of the downed plane, and it reminds us of the courage and sacrifices experienced by all those who don the uniform."

"This event brings to mind an important chapter in our history, and it will be important to remember the human tragedy and the community's courage as we move forward with this discovery," said Minister Prentice. "It is also of utmost importance for the site to remain undisturbed; the plane will be protected with the full extent of applicable laws."

Parks Canada's underwater archaeologists, who regularly carry out surveys related to national historic sites and national parks, discovered what they believe is the US Army Air Force PBY 5A airplane while conducting work in an area adjacent to the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada, where the plane was known to have sunk. Side-scan sonar data indicates that the plane appears to be in very good condition and there is a possibility of finding human remains.

"The United States government was extremely interested to learn of the discovery of the wreckage, and we look forward to working with our Canadian friends to verify the identity of the aircraft, said David Fetter, Consul General of the United States. This process has been an excellent example of the spirit of cooperation and friendship that has been the core of the U.S.-Canadian relationship in times of both war and peace."

There were nine people on board when the aircraft foundered. Four of the crew escaped the flooding plane and were rescued by local fishermen rowing out from shore in open boats in rough seas. The five others perished, trapped in the aircraft by the swift flooding of the fuselage.

Parks Canada is dedicated to managing this discovery with the respect and dignity owed to lost American soldiers. In collaboration with the U.S. Government, in the next weeks Parks Canada will be launching an operation to formally confirm the identity of the wreck and to explore the possibility of eventually recovering the remains of the missing crewmembers. This will be done by visual inspection using divers and remote-operated vehicles.

Parks Canada will also work with other partners, including the Province of Quebec and the village of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, to protect the site while also bringing this story to light.

The amphibious aircraft, which was based at Presqu'Ile Maine and serviced an airfield in Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, is known to have foundered in rough weather in 1942 in the waters surrounding the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Also available on the Internet at www.pc.gc.ca under Media Room.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Frederic Baril
    Press Secretary
    819-997-1441
    or
    Office of the Minister of Public Works
    and Government Services
    Mark Quinlan
    Director of Operations and Strategic Communications
    613-997-5421
    or
    Parks Canada
    National Corporate Communications Branch
    Media Relations
    819-994-3023