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As far as Ontario dive sites go, this one is an institution.
Innerkip quarry is small, shallow, not particularly close to any
other dive site, not easy to find, has vis. that ranges from fair to
damn poor, and you could drive right past it and never know a diver
had ever been there. So why is it this little man-made hole might
just be the single most frequently dived location in Southern
For starters, it is diver friendly... kinda the golden lab puppy
of the diving world. Pay your $5 admission fee and the park is yours
for the day, but if it is a weekend, regardless of the season, you
will likely have to share it with some other divers.
This is an excellent training site. The depth maxes out at
approximately 28 feet (unless you go in the small mine shafts
which are a brief study in confined spaces and instantaneous silt-out...
not recommended) and the bottom is fairly level, without an abundance
of varied topography, so the place is safe. The shore entries are
convenient, plentiful and easily made even by novices.
One of the best features of this small body of water is the work
they have put into making it attractive to divers. They have sunk
two small planes (a Cessna and Harvard), three boats (36' and 38'
cabin cruisers and a 40' lobster boat), a van, several cars (some
disintegrated to the point you can't tell they used to be cars),
and a couple of buses that still look plenty like buses. These
items make this a good spot for multiple dives, and they are
ideal for testing underwater navigation skills; if you head for the
plane and miss... guess what... you didn't pass.
It is a true multi-season facility with a heated building that is
open from late fall to spring which makes a great change room large
enough for a couple dozen divers at least. That is one of the things
that make this an excellent site for ice diving. Winter is the time
when the visibility is at its best, but you have to be willing to
brave the cold to find out. Are you polar bear enough? Ever wanted
to try some underwater ice-skiing? (For anyone who has never tried it,
it's when you swim to the length of your tether rope, stand upside
down on the ice, give the prearranged number of tugs on your tether,
and they pull you in rapidly. Don't bother looking, it's not in the
Fish species in the quarry are the typical Southern Ontario fare:
northern pike, perch, trout, (huge) suckers, bass, sunfish, crayfish
and the occasional pickerel.
On the downside the bottom is covered with fine silt which will
explode when suitably disturbed, and runoff will also have a
considerable impact on the vis.
There is an air fill station on site, not much for rental gear,
but a little, and a small canteen that serves the usual fast food
and drinks. Nothing like an ice-cold root beer after a dive...
[This is the PADI police, and we would like to point out that
WATER is the best for you before and after every dive. We now
return you to your previously scheduled article.]
Since it is a small body of water it warms rapidly early in
the season, and is nearly immune to wind and waves which means
you'll never have to cancel a dive because the weather turned
during your drive to the site.
I did my open water testing here and have been back many times
since. It always seems like there is something new to see, always
more fish, and since it's shallow and calm is nearly ideal for
testing out new gear.
Innerkip quarry (a.k.a. Trout Lake Park) is located near Woodstock
not far off hwy 401 between London and Toronto. Their phone number is
(519) 469-3363 in summer, (519) 469-3431 in winter.
Tom Wilson is a PADI divemaster, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org