When it opened in 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway was one of the greatest engineering feats of its time.
Sixty years later, the Aquatarium is using 21st century technology to tell the story of the Seaway to today’s visitors.
The facility billed as Brockville’s signature tourist attraction includes as its many features the “Pilot House,” a fourth-floor room including both a watercraft simulator and a panel with an interactive map where visitors can keep track of Seaway traffic.
“That exhibit is actually very popular,” said Sarah Laturnus, the river-themed marine interpretive centre’s manager of public relations.
The panel uses satellite tracking to provide visitors with the names and positions of the vessels transiting the Seaway, as well as their destinations and other information.
Avid ship-watchers can zoom in and out, and can even use the feature to find out when they are likely to see a particular vessel sail by past Blockhouse Island.
In fact, from the Pilot House’s perch, all they really have to do is look through the large windows.
Often, when families are waiting for the navigation simulator to be free for the kids to try, people will walk over to the Seaway display and learn a thing or two about the maritime highway, said Laturnus.
The original concept was to include a communications feature, allowing Aquatarium visitors to talk to the crews of the vessels going by, but that proved impossible, she said.
“The Seaway is huge for the Aquatarium,” said Laturnus, adding the Aquatarium is dedicated to telling visitors about all aspects of the river, including its ecology, as the popular otters will attest, but also its infrastructure and economy.
The familiar large granite globe greeting visitors in the building’s lobby includes shipping routes to this area from places around the world, etched into its face, she noted.
And Aquatarium officials are planning an event of their own this summer to mark the Seaway’s 60th anniversary.
They are teaming up with the local chapter of Save Ontario Shipwrecks (S.O.S.) for a celebration of the Seaway on June 22, said Laturnus.
That event will include a trade show, and members of the public will be invited to learn all about the Seaway, she added.
SOURCE: The Recorder & Times