Parks Canada

Parks Canada

July 11, 2012 11:00 ET

The Government of Canada Welcomes the Arrival of a U.S. Team Sent to Recover the Remains of U.S. Soldiers from the Wreckage of a WW II Plane

LONGUE-POINTE DE MINGAN, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - July 11, 2012) -

Editors Note: A photo for this release will be available via Marketwire on the picture wire of The Canadian Press.

The Honourable Michel Rivard, Senator, on behalf of the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada's Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today welcomed the arrival of the U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) in Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, Québec.

JPAC's mission is to search and recover the remains of five American crewmen of a U.S. Air Force PBY-5A "Catalina" seaplane that sank about two kilometres off the coast of the small village on the North shore of the St. Lawrence River, in 1942.

"This event is significant because it is a witness of the collaboration between Canada and the United States during World War II, particularly in respect to the aerial bridge developed between North America and Europe," said Senator Rivard. "The Government of Canada will do all it can to assist JPAC in their solemn mission."

A 50-person recovery team comprised of specialists from JPAC, the crew of the U.S. Naval Ship Grapple, and 18 divers from the U.S. Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two, will conduct underwater excavations to search for the remains of the victims as well as any of their personal belongings.

"Since Parks Canada's underwater archaeologists discovered the wreckage of this U.S. airplane three years ago, the Agency respectfully investigated and protected it from illicit entry," said Minister Kent. "It is a great honour for Parks Canada to have been able to help bring to their final resting place the remains of these servicemen who suffered such a tragic fate."

Parks Canada underwater archaeologists discovered the wreckage of the aircraft while conducting a research survey in May 2009, near the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada. During JPAC's month-long recovery mission, Parks Canada will support JPAC with first-hand knowledge of the site and the surrounding environment.

Mrs. Christine St-Pierre, Minister of Culture, Communications and Status of Women of the Province of Quebec responsible for heritage and archaeological surveys, announced on June 14, 2012 that, given the province of Quebec's jurisdiction, the Government of Quebec issued an archaeological survey permit to the recovery team, as required for any intervention on an archaeological site dating from before 1950.

"This Catalina seaplane reminds us that our soldiers fought side to side during World War II. It also underscores the solidarity and courage of the Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan villagers who rescued and assisted the surviving crew members of this tragedy," said Mrs. St-Pierre. "We will therefore continue to protect this important historical heritage resting under the waters near the Mingan Archipelago."

Parks Canada has been working with other partners, including the Province of Quebec and the municipality of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan to protect the site and bring this significant event to light.

"Four members of the crew of this airplane were saved owing to the courage and care of village residents," said Jean-Luc Burgess, Mayor of Longue-Pointe de Mingan. "This is a significant event for the people of the village since in the 1940s it relied heavily on the U.S. Army base."

Since the discovery, Parks Canada has been dedicated to the protection and conservation of this plane and in a manner that reflects the respect and dignity owed to lost American soldiers.

For additional information on today's announcement, please see the accompanying backgrounder at www.parkscanada.gc.ca under Media Room.

Editors Note: A photo is available at the following address: http://www.marketwire.com/library/20120710-Meda800.jpg

Contact Information

  • Adam Sweet
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of the Environment
    819-997-1441

    Media Relations
    Parks Canada
    819-953-8371
    www.twitter.com/parkscanada