TOWARF (Town of Oakville Water Air Rescue Force) is a Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit and provides marine search and rescue service with the primary goal of saving lives at risk in Western Lake Ontario. Started in 1954 by Oakville then Police Chief Fred Oliver in partnership with the local boating community, TOWARF has been patrolling the waters off Oakville ever since. With about 50 trained volunteers, TOWARF is on duty 32 hours a week and on call 24/7 to the Rescue Centre and Halton Regional Police Service during the boating season
TOWARF patrols the shoreline between Burloak Drive (Oakville/Burlington border) and Winston Churchill Boulevard (Oakville/Mississauga border) and approximately 10 nautical miles out from shore, and area of about 100 square miles.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are about 50 search and rescue crew and administrative members currently volunteering within TOWARF.
Although our boundaries are between the St. Lawrence cement plant and the Shell pier, TOWARF will respond anywhere in the west end of Lake Ontario at the direction of the Canadian Coast Guard and further if requested.
Members have basic Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary Search and Rescue Phase 1 and 2 training, Restricted Radiotelephone Operator’s Certificate (Maritime), Pleasure Craft Operator Card, and Standard First Aid. All courses must be kept current.
You must be at least 18 years of age to become a Marine Search and Rescue Volunteer. For more information, check out our membership page.
When TOWARF began in 1954 several local pilots used their personal aircraft to assist in searches. Now the 424 (Tiger) Squadron from CFB Trenton provides airborne search and rescue in our area. To fulfill this role, 424 Squadron flies the CH-146 Griffon helicopter and the Lockheed CC-130 Hercules. Check out our page on the Marine SAR system for more information.
TOWARF receives an operating grant from the Town of Oakville, which covers a large part of the funding requirements. Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary provides payments based on tasking hours intended to defray boat operating cost.
TOWARF has members that are trained by the Office of Boating Safety to provide Pleasure Craft Courtesy Checks. There is no charge. Learn more and book on our PCCC Page.
- TOWARF patrols begin at the end of April and continue until October 31st
- Monday to Wednesday crew Patrols: 18:00 hrs to 22:00 hrs
- Weekend and Holiday Patrols: 12:00 hrs to 20:00 hrS
- TOWARF’s Searchmaster is on call 24/7. When reached by pager from Trenton Joint Rescue Coordination Centre or Halton Regional Police Service Dispatch, the Searchmaster can assemble a crew for any after hours emergency.
Please refer to our Contact page.
No. All our taskings must be routed through the Coast Guard and the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC). In non emergency situations they will issue a Marine Assistance Radio Broadcast (MARB) to help you seek either commercial help or that of a Good Samaritan. Only if such assistance is unavailable would JRCC consider tasking us to assist.
Please complete the message form on our Contact page and the appropriate person will respond.
We really appreciate feedback when the weather station or webcam data seems to have a problem. Please use the Contact page and we will get back to you.