Reviews/Shows & Conferences/

Shipwrecks 98

scuba in ontario, scuba ontario, scuba, scuba, scuba, scuba, scuba, scuba, scuba, scuba, scuba, scuba, scuba, scuba, scuba, scuba, scuba, scuba, scuba

Once again Niagara Divers Association held its annual SHIPWRECKS FESTIVAL in Welland Ontario. This years event was again held at the Centennial Secondary School auditorium, this is a fantastic venue for the show, large, comfortable, and the speakers voices carry well.

The Master of Ceremonies this year was Jim Grice. He has been involved with shipwrecks since its inception in 1995. He did an excellent job at introducing the speakers as well as keeping the time schedule fairly intact throughout the day.

The first speaker was Dave Trotter, who put on a presentation aptly entitled "Legacy at Thirty Fathoms" . He spoke of a wreck in Lake Huron named the Dunderberg . The 187' three masted schooner set sail on August 8, 1868, on August 12 she had a collision with the steamer Empire State. What she is most noted for is her bow sprit which has ornate carvings and a unique figurehead. This set her apart from the normal working class ship of the day. Her story depicts a classic wreck, perfectly preserved in the cold depths of Lake Huron.

Bart Bjorkman spoke next, about the City of Ainsworth. This wreck is in the southern interior of British Columbia. She foundered and sank in a vicious storm on November 29, 1898. The Ainsworth was carrying furnishings for a hotel and passengers. Seven crew and two passengers died in the wreck, and twenty-two were able to get to shore in a lifeboat by recovering one of the lifeboats. The passengers and crew, in the moonlight could see that the Ainsworth had beached herself a short distance away. Unable to secure her, she was once again blown off shore and sank some distance away. The Ainsworth was located in 1990, in 360 feet of water. In 1997 two Cambrian Foundation members were able to do two dives to this wreck and video sections of her as she sits on the bottom today.

Next on the list of speakers was Mike Fletcher , he updated us on the Steamer Atlantic and how the court case was making out. Seems no one can dive this wreck till it is settled in court. In the mean time he has helped make two documentaries for the American public broadcasters. One on the Squalus, an American submarine that sank in 243' of water, and the story of the attempt to rescue the submariners that were still trapped in the wreck and alive. They did this with as of then, untried technology, and were able to rescue thirty-three of the fifty-five crew. Mike Fletcher also helped with a documentary on the Steamer Atlantic, which became an overwhelming success in the states.

Dan Lindsey was up, and putting on a presentation of the Shipwrecks of Long Point . Several wrecks were shown over about a half hour, and the reasons why they sank were explored. This area has several wrecks that I would like to explore this summer. I think that the Long Point area of Lake Erie will become one of the great diving areas of Ontario soon.

The sad saga of the Alvin Clark was then explored by Joyce Hayward. Launched in 1846 and lost in 1864, the Clark was discovered in 1967 on the dark and murky bottom of Lake Michigan. The ship was a submerged time capsule, and was in perfect condition. The Clark was raised by a team of dedicated divers, but in the time after it's raising she began to rot and decay. This could have been prevented if money was found to help preserve her , but none was. Over several years misfortune struck the Alvin, and a few years ago she was demolished as landfill for a parking lot.

Terrence Tysall was next on the podium. Terrance is President/founder of the Cambrian Foundation, a federally recognized not-for-profit corporation based in Florida. We saw a short video about the Foundation that they use for garnering sponsorship, and it had some good diving scenes on it. He also showed a different video than what was on the program. The video that was to be shown, we were told had a few problems. This was okay though the video they did show us was on a US destroyer escort. It sank in the battle for Guadalcanal. This wreck lies upright in several hundred feet of water and still has live ammunition on her decks. The video was filmed will using scooters, and we were able to explore the ship from one end to the other and back.

Darryl Ertel then put on a excellent video of the Gunilda. She was on a summer cruise in Lake Superior when she went hard aground. Her perch atop McGarvey Shoal was not fatal, but an ill-fated decision led to her demise. The short and sweet speech by Darryl , was nice change in the venue of the day. I think his exact words were, "Hi, I'm Darryl, This is the Gunilda video we shot, let's see it." Then on to the video we went. The videoography and well thought out maps of the wreck were beyond words. This wreck is in very clean shape, and no one has stripped anything off her. You can still see plains of glass, tables, chairs, lights, dishes etc. in her main hallways, and on her decks. If you know how to contact them to buy the video, please e-mail me, I would like to buy a copy.

Joyce Hayword then had another presentation called From Thunder Bay to Thunder Bay . In this show she talked about and showed pictures of several shipwrecks from Thunder Bay, Michigan to Thunder Bay, Ontario. She also talked of several interesting points along the way.

I was unable to stay for the last show of the day done by David Trotter due to prior commitments. I did have several friends that stayed for this though, and was told that it was a good presentation on the tug Fred E. Lee and it's mysterious loss.

Overall the day went by without a hitch for Niagara Divers Ass. The lunch and breaks were once again run very well, good job. The only thing I would do differently next year when I attend, Rent a Hotel room. I drive from Oshawa and when you leave at six in the morning your attention span is not always the best during the later part of the day.

If you would like to learn more about this show, or the NDA then go to their internet site at


Return to Reviews

Darryls Diving Services On-Line Magazine