Top 10 Dives Sites in Ontario to visit this Summer

Konrad Cetes in Scubatude Blog
on Jun 11, 2021 |

TOP 10 DIVES SITES IN ONTARIO TO VISIT THIS SUMMER

Written by Konrad: DMC

 

People always ask me, what is there to see when you scuba dive in Ontario? And I tell everyone the same thing; although we don’t have the same kind of marine life you can find in the Caribbean, Australia, or other tropical destinations, we have an abundance of shipwrecks, each with their own story. If you are looking for a good place to start your wreck hunt, here are my top 10 sites to visit, plus a couple bonus wrecks. 

 

Hope & Christian Island:

Lottie Wolf

Build in 1866, the Lottie Wolf was a three master schooner that was lost October 16, 1891. She was headed to Midland carried 21,000 bushels of corn when it broke apart due to gale force seas while in shallow water. Today, the Lottie Wolf sits scattered in just 20ft of water, making it a great dive site for all levels of diving.

 

Mapledawn

Originally name Manola, the Maple Dawn was built in Cleveland, Ohio in 1890. Having thought to serve in WW I, she was cut in half to be transported through the St. Lawrence. However, while in transit a storm caused the bow section to be lost near Quinte and was the Manola was never sold. In 1920, the ship was re-assembled with a new bow and renamed the Maple Dawn. Just 4 years after being rebuilt, on November 30, 1924 the Maple Dawn was caught in a sever snowstorm with low visibility in Georgian Bay, just off Christian Island and had found itself in an area littered with shallow shoals. Inevitable she ran into a shoal causing the propeller and part of the prop shaft to rip of the ship. Now, nearly 100 years later the Maple Dawn sits scarred in 10-25ft of water just off the west shore of Christian Island. Due to the shallowness of wreck, it makes it ideal for divers of all levels.


 

Muskoka:

Waome 

Built in the Gravenhurst shipyard in 1912, the Waome was originally launched as the Mink until May 28, 1929 when her name was changed to Waome (the Ojibwa word meaning ‘water lily’). The Waome served as a passenger ferry until October 6, 1934 when on a trip to Beaumaris a sudden and powerful gust of wind knocked the ship onto its port side and water poured into its holds. Within a minute the Waome was lost to the depths of Lake Muskoka, taking a crewmember and the a Minister along with her. Today, she sits upright in 65ft of water. However, to the dark tea-colour water of Lake Muskoka, it makes this wreck a more advanced dive sight.

 

Brockville:

Robert Gaskin

Originally built as a three masted wooden barque, Robert Gaskin was launched in Kingston on April 21st, 1863 with a cargo capacity of 20,000 bushels. By 1889, she was used a salvage barge helping in the salvage of the railroad ferry Armstrong. However, during the recovery efforts, the Robert Gaskin was struck 3 times, the 3rd strike being it’s final blow. Today, she sits a half mile downstream of the Brockville waterfront perpendicular of the current at, with the bow at 55ft and the stern at 70. With Brockville situated on the St. Lawrence river, it makes the Robert Gaskin suitable for advanced divers only

 

Lillie Parsons

At 131ft long, Lille Parsons is a two-masted schooner built in Towanda N.Y. in 1868. While on route to Brockville in 1887, a sudden squall pushed the vessel on a rock that shifted her load of coal, causing to her to capsize and take on water. Ultimately sinking the schooner off Sparrow Island in just 60ft of water. Today, she lies upside down with coal scattered around the dive site. However, due to the location of the wreck and the strong current it is impossible to finish the dive in the place you started, making this yet another one of Brockville’s interesting dives sites.

  • Advanced divers only 

 

Tobermory:

Niagara II

Built in England in 1930 by Furness Shipbuilding Company Ltd and originally named the Rideaulite operated a tanker between Montréal and Ottawa. In 1954, Toronto Dry Dock Ltd, converted her into a sand sucker and renamed the ship to Niagara. 30 years later in 1984, Niagara was renamed Niagara II and her engines converted to diesel in 1990. By 1997, the Niagara II had served it’s purpose and the owner decided it was time to scrap the ship and was sold to the Tobermory Maritime Association. In October of 1998, the Niagara II was towed from Lake Eire to Tobermory and scuttled. Today, Niagara II sits around 95ft to the bottom, with the deck of the ship at 85ft and the wheelhouse starting at around 45-50ft. This particular dive site is nick named the fridge for its true cold water experience with temperature usually sitting around 40F. It’s depth makes this site suitable for advanced divers only. 

 

James C. King

Built in East Saginaw, Michigan in 1867, the James C. King (commonly referred to as the King) was a three-masted barque and later converted to a schooner and used a barge. On November 29, 1901, while under tow by the W. L. Wetmore, the King was pushed ashore of Russel Island during a sever storm and broke apart. Today, she lies between 25 and 95ft of water. Because of wreck sits on a shelf of rocks, it makes it perfect for divers training to become advanced divers.


W. L. Wetmore

The W.L. Wetmore (commonly referred to as the Wetmore), was a wooden steamer built in Cleveland, Ohio in 1871. On November 29th, 1901, while towing her usual barges – the Brunette and the James C. King – was caught in a sever storm and was pushed a shore of Russel Island. Shortly after, the ship was torn apart and now sits in just 25ft of water. Due to the location of the wreck, it makes the water she sits in, slightly warmer than most wrecks in Tobermory making this wreck perfect for divers of all level. 

 

The Tugs

The Tugs are comprised of 4 individual tugs boat wrecks; The John & Alice, built in Port Dover, Ontario in 1924 and burnt December 6, 1947. The Bob Foote which sank in 1905. The 68ft long Robert K, also built in Port Dover in 1917, however, she burnt June 23, 1935. And the last of the 4, The Alice G white ran aground in gale force wind in November of 1927. All 4 wreck are in Little Tub Harbour. The John & Alice, The Bob Foote and Robert K, are all accessible from the dive sites wooden platform, however, because these wreck did burn down, their remains are scattered just near the platform. Yet, the Alice G. which lies not to far the wooden deck, is still very much intact. Sitting at just around 30ft divers can find the still intact boiler, steam engine, driveshaft, and prop. Due to the location and depth of these wrecks, it makes them perfect for divers of all levels to explore and enjoy.

 


 

Lighthouse

Located at Big Tub Lighthouse Point, in Big Tub Bay, the lighthouse is one of Tobermory’s amazing shore dives. Although there are no wrecks to see, on a clear and sunny day, the rock wall that divers float next to can be a sight to remember. With a maximum depth of 75ft this can be a perfect dive site for divers to check their trim before heading out on the boats. The rock wall does have a sudden vertical drop to 60ft from the entry point making a place that only divers who are confident in buoyancy should dive. 


 

2 Bonus Wrecks in Tobermory

 

Arabia

Built in Kingston, Ontario in 1853 the Arabia was three-masted barque inbound from Chicago to Midland carrying corn. However, on October 4, 1884 while running that very route with a load of corn, she began taking on water in heavy seas. The crew of the Arabia, after hours of tirelessly pumping water got in their yawl boats while the Arabia sank to the bottom of Georgian Bay. Today, she is considered on of Tobermory’s most advanced dives but also the most intact wreck. Sitting northeast of Echo Island, Arabia sits 120ft below in the open bay. Because of the location and depth of the wreck, only advanced divers with a deep certification should attempt this wreck.





Forest City

At 214ft long, the Forest City was a three-masted wooden schooner, built in Cleveland Ohio in 1870 and was later converted into a steamer. In June of 1904, the Forest City met its fate after it sailed into Bear’s Rump Island while trying to find Tobermory harbour during heavy fog. Today, the bow of the ship sits at 60ft before descending to the bow at 150ft. I personally believe that the Forest City should be on any diver’s bucket list, however, this wreck does command a certain degree of respect because of the immense depth. Yes, the bow sits at 60ft, but after that, it’s a straight drop to the bottom. This dive should only be attempt by highly advanced divers, who hold a deep certification and who have complete numerous deep dives to at least 100ft before attempting this dive.




 

References:

Kohl, C. (2008). The Great Lakes diving guide(pg 174, 176, 248). West Chicago: Seawolf Communications.

http://www.niagaradivers.com/divesites/pentang.html#Lottie%20Wolf

https://www.nothingunknown.com/content/2018/shipwreck-of-the-lillie-parsons

https://sharkyscuba.com/local-ottawa-diving/robert-gaskin/

https://tobermory.com/do-see/outdoors-adventures/shipwrecks

https://www.tobermoryvillagecamp.com/scuba_dive_arabia.php

https://www.tobermoryvillagecamp.com/scuba_dive_lighthouse.php

https://www.tobermoryvillagecamp.com/scuba_dive_alice.php

https://www.tobermoryvillagecamp.com/scuba_dive_james_king.php

http://www.warrenlophotography.com/uw/penetang/maple-dawn/

http://www.warrenlophotography.com/uw/tobermory/niagara2/

https://www.wrecksandreefs.com/forest.htm

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