Floating Our Boat: The Making of TRCA’s New Research Vessel

In October, Toronto and Region Conservation christened its new research vessel, the R.V. Ken Higgs, manufactured in St. Thomas, Ontario by local shipbuilder Kanter Marine.

New TRCA research vessel docked at a marina

For the last 35 years, TRCA has been a leader in protecting shorelines, restoring terrestrial and aquatic habitats, and monitoring and managing natural resources throughout a 72-kilometre swath of Lake Ontario’s open coast, embayments and river estuaries.

Ken Higgs at christening of new TRCA research vessel
Ken Higgs at the christening of the new TRCA research vessel that bears his name.

To collect the data necessary for understanding the environmental conditions in the nearshore zone of Western Lake Ontario, TRCA needs a sturdy boat that can stand up to heavy use and challenging weather conditions, year in and year out.

After 26 years on the water, TRCA’s research vessel, Aqualab, was due for retirement. Its replacement, the 32-foot R.V. Ken Higgs, bears the name of TRCA’s first general manager, appointed back in 1961 (when we were known as the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority).

“I’m extremely proud of what the boat is going to do: carrying out research on the Toronto waterfront, which is absolutely essential … I’m really proud that the boat is going to carry on and expand that tradition.”Ken Higgs, TRCA General Manager, 1961-1982

Built to handle higher winds and rougher waves than its predecessor, the R.V. Ken Higgs will play a critical role in TRCA’s ongoing aquatic monitoring and habitat restoration work.