Who We Are
The Pickering Auxiliary Rescue Association (PARA) is a not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to the preservation of life on the water. We are made up entirely of volunteers whose main purpose is to operate a marine rescue service to protect mariners, assist police, fire, and ambulance services in emergency situations. PARA is also active in encouraging boater and public awareness of water safety.
PARA is currently made up of 45 members, all who go through intensive training in the off season in conjunction with the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG). PARA is supported by the City of Pickering, Durham Region, Durham Police Service and many other fundraising activities.
PARU currently is docked alongside the Frenchman’s Bay Yacht Club during the boating season.
What We Do
During the regular boating season from May to October, PARA volunteers provide over 1,100 hours of service to the boating community. Since 1967, PARA has assisted over 3,000 people in emergency situations, of which 260 of these were life threatening.
PARA volunteers are on call 24 hours a day to respond to any emergency situation. Search and Rescue (SAR) activities include night searches in response to emergency flares, overdue vessels, and calls for assistance from vessels in distress, as well as suspected drowning. Regular boating activities monitored by PARA include summer sailing races and events, sail boarding activities, and all recreational craft activities. These regular patrols are carried out Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings as well as all day Saturdays and Sundays, and all public holidays.
Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CCGA) units like PARA can often respond to emergency situations and Search and Rescue incidents faster than the regular Coast Guard due to our close proximity to the main areas of boating activity. PARA has many volunteers who live in the surrounding areas of Frenchman’s Bay and the Frenchman’s Bay Yacht Club where the rescue boat is moored.
PARA is frequenting called upon for Search and Rescue missions due to the enhanced capabilities of our vessel. The proud and respected marine call-sign P.A.R.U. has remained through generations of vessels with a long history of community service, dedication to duty and a commitment to safety on the waters of Lake Ontario.
Unit History and Affiliations
The Pickering Auxiliary Rescue Association, with the marine rescue call sign PARU, is one of the oldest volunteer marine rescue units on Lake Ontario. PARA originated as the Pickering Emergency Rescue Unit (PERU) in 1967, and it was renamed to the Pickering Ajax Rescue Unit in 1975. PARA legally incorporated with its current name, Pickering Auxiliary Rescue Association, in 1996.
PARA’s history is one of long-time dedication to the boaters of Pickering. Since 1967 when the unit was founded, PARA has undergone many changes and has constantly grown stronger, both in manpower, and boat capability. PARA has had just 3 vessels over the years and in 1997, the latest vessel ”PARU” was launched. The current vessel is 34 feet with an aluminum hull and twin Volvo diesel engines capable of a top speed of 35 knots. Designed and built as a work boat in Picton, Ontario, this new vessel is well suited to the unique conditions of Frenchman’s Bay and Lake Ontario.
Throughout this time, this charity volunteer organization has provided almost 50 years of committed service to the boating community of Pickering and the surrounding areas.
The Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CCGA) was started as the Canadian Marine Rescue Auxiliary (CMRA) in 1978. PARA was a charter and founding member. In 1981, the CCG allowed the CMRA to change its name to the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CCGA).