History of SOS
During the late 1970’s, two far sighted individuals, Rick Jackson and Gain Wong, began to
realize that the most effective means of putting an end to wreck stripping in Ontario would
be to educate and involve divers in conservation projects. They also recognized the need for
an organization dedicated to preserving Ontario’s marine heritage. In February of 1981,
Save Ontario Shipwrecks (SOS) was incorporated with Rick Jackson, Andrew Garay and Gain
Wong as the first directors.
In the beginning, SOS was centred in Toronto. The first Chapters were Toronto, Niagara,
Peterborough and Ottawa. In 1985, SOS Quinte was formed primarily to continue work on
the Annie Falconer. This project, the wreck of a late eighteen hundreds schooner near
Picton (Pt. Traverse) was the first to involve amateur divers and professionals and stands
today as an example of the quality effort that can be achieved by the dive community. Also
in 1984 we saw the formation of SOS Ottawa Valley, Sault Ste Marie, Superior, London and
Sudbury, and Oshawa came on board in 1985, followed by Ohio in 1986. SOS Ohio consisted
of a group of divers working on an Ontario wreck in Fathom Five Park, and assisted the State
of Ohio in organizing their own marine heritage groups. 1986 saw the formation of Chapters
in Windsor, Ingleside (which was closely affiliated with the Lost Villages Historical Society)
and Thunder Bay.
In 1986, SOS was awarded a Core Funding grant by the Ministry of Culture. This in turn
forced SOS to develop a more structured fiscal operating system, and reorganized to
manage our affairs in a more professional manner. In 1986, we finally evolved to the
position where we had a definite Board of Directors, with Officers and an Executive
Committee to manage the day to day affairs of the corporation.
In 2003 SOS embarked on a provincial wide campaign to provide mooring buoys to SOS
chapters and affiliated organizations like the NDA, POW and ErieQuest. To date, SOS has
purchased over 80 buoys for initial deployment and maintenance purposes for this program.
In 2005 SOS created the Dive To Preserve program with an additional website at
http://www.DiveToPreserve.org. This program outlines many of the things that people can
do to get actively involved in Marine Heritage preservation. Such as Low Impact diving, site
stewardship, ad‐hoc reporting of site conditions or changes.