Quebec police divers have been working since Monday to recover the plane, which had been sitting 50 metres beneath the surface of Lac Simon. ((CBC))

A small amphibious plane has been raised to the surface of Lac Simon for the first time since it crashed half a century ago.

Quebec provincial police divers recovered the wreckage of the Republic RC-3 SeaBee on Wednesday morning from its longtime resting place 50 metres below the surface of the lake, about 75 kilometres northeast of Ottawa.

"We have the firefighters here to try to open the airplane to try and get the human remains inside at the back of the airplane," said police spokeswoman Melanie Larouche.

The team has been working since Monday to retrieve the plane, which flipped and sank while trying to make an emergency landing during a snowstorm on Nov. 21, 1957, while pilot Gaétan Deshaies and hunters Tony Chivazza, Philippe Ouimet and Louis Hamel were aboard.

As the police divers worked, the beach was crowded with relatives of the four men. Two of the bodies were recovered by Tuesday and the other two were believed to be in the back of the plane.


Tony Chivazza was one of the four men on the plane when it crashed during a snowstorm in November 1957. ((Tony Chivazza's family))

Among the spectators was 82-year-old René Simard, brother-in-law of Tony Chivazza, who inherited Chivazza's hunting dog after the crash.

He said he would sometimes take the dog to the lake so that it could be near its master.

"We would say, 'Tony is there,' and the dog would start barking," Simard recalled.

Some people unrelated to the plane's occupants were also there, including Laurent Veronneau, who drove several hours to the lake.

"Because I am a pilot, because I like planes," he said, adding that he hopes to see if the event provides answers about whether "we can save ourselves from making mistakes."


Chivazza's brother-in-law, René Simard, 82, was among the relatives of the victims who crowded the beach to watch police recover the wreckage. ((CBC))

A provincial coroner decided police should recover the plane after it was found by amateur divers from Ottawa last fall. Authorities feared other divers would attempt a dangerous visit to the wreckage in deep water.