The Ship Information Database is based on an original design by the Nova Scotia Museum and has been developed by the Federal Archaeology Office in cooperation with the provinces of Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Ontario and the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston. Hosting services are provided by the Canadian Heritage Information Network.
The database was developed in response to the requirement of cultural resource managers to manage archaeological shipwreck. It contains information about ships that were registered in Canadian ports or sailed in Canadian waters. Although the primary target group for this database is archaeological resource managers, the information will also be of interest to marine curators, archivists, historians and avocationals.
Existing terrestrial archaeological site databases can accommodate actual wreck sites. To include ship information in these sources would require considerable modification in order for them to maintain the large amounts of information about ships that is required to identify real and potential archaeological shipwreck sites. A separate Ship Information Database provides cultural resource managers with a research management tool and will, at the same time, make this information available to a wider audience.
Currently, the database contains records from a number different sources and contributors. Every effort has been made to correct obvious errors and inconsistencies in the electronic data received, but no attempt has been made to significantly alter the source material. As a result the data remain in the language in which they were received.
Official registration numbers have been entered for those vessels which were registered by government agencies. For those ships that were built before an official registration system was put into effect 1850, an artificial number has been created to allow tracking and updating of the records. The artificial numbering system begins with 900000. Registration numbers greater than 900000 should only be used as a reference within the context of this database. They do not have any validity outside of the database.