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.