Toronto Christmas on a icebreaker better than Arctic July

A 1970 Globe and Mail article about a coast guard ice breaker, moored in the Toronto Harbour over Christmas.

A seaman said that sitting in Toronto harbor over Christmas is an improvement over being in the Arctic in July.

Source: The Globe and Mail; Dec 23, 1970 
Toronto Christmas better than Arctic July
Wind whipped the waves of Lake Ontario into whitecaps and sent snow swirling against the portholes of the N.B. McLean. A seaman said that sitting in Toronto harbor over Christmas is an improvement over being in the Arctic in July. Third officer John Pouliot, 29, is in charge of the skeleton crew aboard the 41-year-old icebreaker for the holiday.Much of life on an icebreaker is spent waiting for ice to form. Mr. Pouliot has waited on the N.B. McLean for midsummer ice to form in a harbor on Hudson Strait, but he points out the strait between Quebec and Baffin Island did not come equipped with bright lights and such buildings as Toronto’s City Hall and the Toronto-Dominion Centre. He has spent other winters on the icebreakers as it crunched its way through the floes in the St. Lawrence River.This icebreaker, the oldest in the line service, rides on top of the ice when it gets really thick, crushing it down, rather than cutting trough it – which it can do equally well, Mr. Pouliot said.The vessel leaves Toronto next Tuesday and will head upstream through the Great Lakes. It will be the first icebreaker to try to keep a Lake Superior shipping lane open through the winter.Some of the cabins aboard are empty. Formerly used as quarters for sick Eskimos picked up at the various outposts for transport to hospital, they fell into disuse when it was found to be cheaper to take them out by plane, Mr. Pouliot said.

Time hangs heavily while the crew is waiting for ice and practically every sailor has his own library of reading material.

Mr. Pouliot’s hobby is collecting stamps.Gregory Nickerson, 22, of Halifax, the junior officer, composes folk songs and has his guitar on board. He provided the accompaniment for carol singing at the Christmas party two days ago attended by the 75 other members of the crew before they ship to spend the holiday at their homes which are mostly around Quebec City.For the crew, work at the moment is chiefly keeping the gangplank clear of snow and listening for messages on the ship’s radio. Perhaps the busiest man on board is the cook. Yvan Guay, who will soon be pulling a turkey out of the deep freeze to roast for Christmas dinner. He has already prepared the tortieres – the meat pies for the French-Canadian crew.

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