Fisheries and Oceans had probably the most popular exhibit at the 1978 Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto – the distinctively coloured submersible Pisces IV.
Getting Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to climb aboard was the highlight of an exhibition promoting the establishment of a 200-mile fishing limit off Canada’s coasts.
On loan from the Institute of Ocean Sciences at Patricia Bay, Vancouver Island, the three man undersea craft dramatically illustrated the oceanographic mission of the newly established Fisheries and Oceans department.
Fisheries and Oceans was one of 28 federal departments and agencies promoting national unity in the Canadian Pavilion, largest building on the CNE grounds. Over one million people were expected to go through the pavilion, and three million at the overall Exhibition, then celebrating its 100th anniversary.
The three pilots of the Pisces IV readily explained operations of the submersible to the public and escorted the Prime Minister for a look inside the craft.
In addition to Pisces IV, the Fisheries and Oceans exhibit presented a 200 mile limit display demonstrating how fisheries operations within the hugely expanded new fishing zone were to be managed. It took the form of a fully staffed operations room monitoring and controlling the operation of foreign and Canadian fishing activities on both east and west coasts.
As DFO creative communications chief in Ottawa, I had much to do with that exhibition but perhaps had the most fun when I first travelled to Victoria to go “shopping for a sub.” Having heard about the Pisces IV and the kind of work it did, I thought it was worth asking if it could be made available for the CNE.
IOS staff were rather dubious at first, but agreed to do it after arrangements were made for the National Defence department to undertake transportation as a kind of training exercise. They were more than happy with all the publicity it gained in Toronto.
Built in Vancouver in 1973, Pisces IV was operated by the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic waters until 1983 when, because of budget cuts, ownership passed to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States for service in Hawaii.