top of page

Today is Remembrance Day. It has been estimated that during the reign of our civilization up to 1 billion humans have died during conflict.

As explorers our goal is to enjoy the places we visit, like the WWII shipwrecks on the coast of Newfoundland - visited this year by the Great Island Expedition. But fun is really the byproduct of the main goal, which is education.

The wreckages we dive on are incredibly fun experiences, but they are more than that - they are war graves, they are the conclusions of a specific conflict. They need to be documented so they can be remembered, as explorers and storytellers that’s our responsibility, and it’s a good deal compared to what our family members and ancestors had to go through.

Laying a plaque isn’t just a gesture, it’s an important reminder. Maybe the next diver will stop and think about where they are, and the people that gave so much in order for them to enjoy that experience.

Without remembrance we are doomed to make the same mistakes again and again.

  1. A Union Jack hangs on a Bell Island iron ore carrier. Not all sailors lost during conflict are military. Merchant seaman around the world have been lost to war, but only in the 90’s were they recognized as veterans.

  2. Lanier Phillips - an American legend you’ve never heard of. The only African American survivor of the USS Truxtun which went aground in a raging winter storm on February 18, 1942. He later went on to be a civil rights activist and decorated veteran.

  3. Listening is an important part of exploring.

  4. A porthole from the USS Pollux.

  5. This isn’t a “we were here” sign, this says “they were here - don’t forget”.

  6. Once made for defending against U-boats, this gun is now gives life a platform to flourish.

  7. Tiare Boyes, an explorer that understands the weight of responsibility on storytellers. The ocean that gave us such a great experience, has given hundreds of others - right here - their final resting place.

  8. A memorial ceremony on Bell Island.

  9. The wreck of the PLM, an iconic Newfoundland landmark, and a powerful reminder that we are surrounded by history worth remembering.

The remains of the MV Gulf Stream have further deteriorated over the last few years. The stern and bow areas have crumbled, leaving just the middle as a noticeable vessel.

The former steam yacht, converted to a diesel passenger ferry, struck Dinner Island in October 1947. She ran aground and tipped over 45 degrees, killing five passegners. The wreck slipped further down the pinnacle and now rests in 150-110 feet of water.

The wreck is deep and dark with almost no light making it to the watery graveyard. There’s little to see but structural remains, however a large cloud sponge still hangs midship while a handful of rockfish scatter around like the local neighbourhood watch association.

It is an interesting dive and a look back into British Columbia’s maritime history.

Dinner Island itself offers some great diving. High currents that whip through the submerged boulders have created beautiful vistas made of orange and white plumose anemones. Just not on this day, this day the visibility was reduced in the shallows to a foggy cloud.

Big Animal Encounters offer diving to both the SS Capilano and the MV Gulf Stream.

The SS Capilano, a registered BC Heritage site, and one of my favourite dives in Canada.

The Steam Ship Capilano sank in the northern Strait of Georgia on October 1, 1915. Built in 1891, the 120 foot long Capilano was a small steel coastal freight and passenger steamship.

The Capilano played an important role in the development of a reliable water transportation network for British Columbia coastal waters. The ship was one of three steel steamers built in Scotland in 1891-92 to meet the increasing demand for cargo and passenger transport from Vancouver to the growing number of up-coast settlements and industries.

The wreckage was discovered in 1973. The steel hull of the vessel, along with all its machinery and rigging gear, remain upright on flat sandy bottom. The main structure is still in relatively good shape.

The Capilano feels like a shipwreck. At over a hundred years old it’s easy to imagine people walking around the decks. I like to swim off the wreck and kneel in the sand at 130 feet depth, taking it all in - or as much as the visibly allows. The ship has now become an important home to marine life, with nothing else nearby to produce a suitable fish habitat, wrecks like this one are now an important resource for our sea life.

bottom of page