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1000 Island Dive Sites.

 

The St. Lawrence River, the main shipping route use for centuries, where hundreds of vessels met their fate. From wooden schooners with cargo of grain or coal. Warships of the early 1800's to modern day freighters we see today lie along the river bottom waiting to be explored. Diving in Brockville can be considered warm(er) diving for its geographical location. Warm surface water from Lake Ontario flows and mingles around the many islands causing the water temperature to "equal out" through all depths! Brockville is known for its lack of thermocline, warm summer waters and good visibility, making the diving experience that much more enjoyable. Late Summer Diving can bring water temperatures up to 75+ degrees, and divers enjoy the St. Lawrence in only 6 mm farmer johns. Both drysuit and wetsuit diving can be experienced in Brockville depending on the time of year. Early spring and late fall dives are most commonly enjoyed in a dry suit, but can be done in full 7 mm wet suits with both hoods and gloves. For those not familiar to the Brockville experience, we recommend bringing a full 6 mm wet suit with both a hood and gloves. Due to the number of Zebra muscles in the St. Lawrence river, it is recommended to always wear gloves when diving - and don't forget your light!

The Conestoga

 

Built: 1878
Sunk: May 22, 1922

Depth: 30'
Ability: Novice 

 

A shore dive found at the intersection of Hwy #2 and Shanley Road (County Rd #22) in Cardianal (just East of Prescott). Follow County Road #22, south of Hwy #2 towards the river and at the bottom of the hill make a right past the Legion hall. As you look upstream, her rusty engine stands out of the water just 50 feet from shore. Follow the dirt road to the end. 

 

The Conestoga, a wooden passenger / package steam freighter was traversing the locks in 1922, just upstream when she caught fire. Afraid that it would burn the locks, she was "flushed" out of the lock, and drifted to where she sits today. 

Known as the "Connie" she is 253' in length, and sits in only 30 feet. Even though she burned to the water line, there are many artifacts to explore. Her expansion engine is one of the highlights, you could almost see how the engine functioned. Looking at her stern her massive four blade propeller has been the site of many photo opportunities. The rudder and steering mechanism lie in the clay base downstream from the stern. Dropping Inside her hull, the current is much easier to navigate. There you will find lots of things to look at. 

 

Just ahead of the engine you will cross over her massive boilers. Winches, deck fittings, even a "donkey engine" (a small steam winch used to pull in ropes) sits under some of the iron work that scatters around the wreck. As you enter the bow you will see her large windlass and huge links of chain. 

 

Many who visit the Connie, will then climb over her side and enjoy the drift back to her stern. This time explore the other side of the inner hull. At one time she was outfitted with steel plates to help support her hull. Many pieces of rusty plates have fallen off, so exercise caution not to get caught or cut from the remaining plates and large nails along her top and sides. 

This site is perfect for less experienced divers due to it's usually mild current and shallow depth.

Keystorm 

 

Built: 1908
Sunk: October 121912
Depth: 20' TO 110'
Ability: Novice - Advanced

 

Keystorm Built in 1908, this 2300 ton
(256' x43') steel steamer with 2 boilers
and a triple expansion, 3 cylinder engine
was captained by Capt. L. Daigualt. She
was carrying 2230 tons of Bituminous coal
bound for Ashtabula, Ohio, when 45 min. past Alexandria Bay in heavy fog on Oct. 12, 1912 she crossed over Outer Scow Island Shoal. The pumps were put into operation immediately, but 5 hours later she sank stern first rolling over. 

The Keystorm lays on her starboard side; her bow is at 20' depth and her stern is at 115'. She was deemed unsalvageable with double wrappings of 4" cable at 20' intervals remaining from salvage attempts (her cargo was salvaged). 

The 'after' house contained the galley, dining room, crew's men, and quarters for the chief oiler's, second engineer, and firemen. The captains cabin, and the rest of the crew's quarters were in the forward quarters. The pilot house was also arranged for canal service. She was rediscovered by accident by divers diving the Oakbay (a.k.a. Henry C. Daryaw) who had been given directions to a wreck. The directions were approximately. 100 yards off the opposite side of the shoal. They gave up their search for the wreck and returned to spear fish a school of Walleyes they found on their earlier wreck search, when they stumbled on the Keystorm; a now well visited wreck. 

With the recent issues about boarder crossing and it's implications, U.S. Customs require all divers going to the American dive sites to fill in the attached form and submit or fax this form to the shop 1 week before each dive trip to U.S. waters. 

For entry into the U.S., group leaders can  fill in the downloadable Customs Form, please submit this to the shop 1 week prior to each dive trip to U.S. waters. You will need a form for each trip.

The Robert Gaskin

 

Built: 1863
Sunk: September 18th. 1889

Depth: 65' - 70'
Ability: Novice

 

The Robert Gaskin is a double masted iron rigged wood barge that was built in Kingston Ont. by Charles W. Jenkings in 1863. She is 113' x 26', 3332 ton "carvel" and has a square stern, but no galley or figurehead. The Gaskin has an interesting history. As a sailing vessel she struck a shoal and sank. Salvaged and placed back in service, her masts and rigging were remove as she was transformed into a cargo barge. As steam vessels were more prevalent many sailing ships had been converted. Again she slipped under the surface and again was recovered and patched back up. By this time the railroad ferry (William Armstrong) running from Brockville to Morristown had sunk.

The Gaskin was now outfitted as a salvage barge to raise the Armstrong. While pumping steam down to pontoons attached to the Armstrong, one of the pontoons broke loose and shot to the surface striking the Gaskin near the bow. The hole was so large that she sank in only minutes. 

Eventually the Armstrong was recovered, and attempts to again salvage the Gaskin were underway. She was raised just below the surface and while pulling her towards shore, the ropes broke and she went down for the third time. 

She sits on a firm bottom (with light silt) approximately 400' off shore, with her bow facing inland.The Gaskin is near the north side of the main shipping channel, and is in a high traffic area of smaller boats. Dive flags and caution are recommended especially if you are drifting off the wreck, and a chase boat should be used. The bow sits at about 60' depth and the stern is at 70' with a gentle current running across her deck. Descending down the bow mooring line is quite impressive as her hull rises some 15 feet off the river bottom. Divers can visit through the hold and exit via the stern hole with quite ease. 

As you drift over her deck you'll see large timbers reaching across her deck and beyond her hull. At the ends you will find the pulleys used to lift the Armstrong. Looking into the forward hold you will see massive steel drums that were used to hold chain and ropes. Nearing the stern the transom had been blown off and lies on the river bottom making a great way to swim the length of her hull. The Gaskin's deck and stern have suffered from current, numerous anchors, divers touching her, and time; thus allowing easy penetration through the deck. However, each year her decay becomes more evident as silt get brushed away, the wooden planks are again exposed. S.O.S. 1000 Islands Chapter have buoyed the Gaskin to help maintain her for future visiting divers, and would appreciate your help in preserving this site. 

The Muscallonge

 

Built: April 23, 1896
Sunk: August 15, 1936
Depth: 100'
Ability: Intermediate - Advanced 

 

The "Muskie" at 128' length was the largest tug on the river at that time. She had left Montreal heading for Port Credit so she was carrying extra fuel for the trip. In tow was the barge Bruce Hudson loaded with crude oil and the safety tug the Ajax. 

Shortly after midnight fire was discovered in her boiler room and quickly spread. Attempt to contact the ferry to transport the Brockville pumper truck failed. Captain Ahearn then cut loose the barge and sped towards shore. The Ajax chased the Muskie and was able to take the crew off the burning ship to safety. As the flames continued to soar she had burned to the water line. At 5:30 the fire had reached her fuel tanks and exploded sending flames 80 feet into the air. The shock practically obliterated her hull and she broke in two as the bow settled into 90 feet of water. 

She sits at around 95' in a medium to good current just East of Downtown Brockville. Perrywinkles cover the downstream clay base and has become one of the most popular sites for the local fish population. There is still lots to see such as the boiler, winches, the engine and various other ships parts. 

Recent discovery by SOS have located the propeller and rudder of the muskie resting in the main shipping lane, thus making it too dangerous to dive. It is hoped that their work will eventually bring these parts back to the bow so future divers will be able to see them safely. 

The Lillie Parsons

 

Built: 1868
Sunk: August 5th. 1877

Depth: 70' - 80' 

Ability: Novice to Advanced

 

The Lillie Parsons is a double masted (fore
& aft) retractable centerboard schooner
built in Tonawanda N.Y. in 1868. She was
being used to transport 500 tons of coal
when a squall shifted her cargo, pushing
her into Sparrow Island. She started taking on water, capsizing, and sank off the west side of Sparrow Island. 

She lies upside down, against the side of the island (in a quick current) with her bow downstream in about 70' on a rock slope. The Stern and its impressive rudder lies upstream at about 20' depth. 

She is easily accessible by following the anchor chain (quick current) down to the railing between midship and the bow. You can then use the chain to pull yourself upstream between the wreck and island towards the stern where S.O.S. (Ottawa) has a tray of recovered *goodies* from the wreck. 

Divers can penetrate the stern, slipping past the ship stove and rudder post up into the ship's interior. She sits on top of part of her cargo hold, where coal has spilled out. Returning out the stern, you can follow the channel rail downstream to the bow, providing a good opportunity to see the masts that extend from her. On reaching the bow take note of her impressive bowsprit and the windlass chain still attached (island side). You can return up on the island side back to the stern to see the rudder holding fast up against the current (good photo opportunity). 

Once you finished looking around there are two ways to leave the site. You can follow the chain back to surface, or you can 'shoot the rudder' by drifting over the Lillie from the stern (getting a good look at her from above). Simply drift with the current, enjoying the 'Parson's Escape' as you follow the contour of Sparrow Island. This adds a great wall and drift dive to your experience as the quick current whisks you along the side of the island. 

It is highly recommended that you drift at a depth of 40' and stay close to the island walls. The shipping lane is only a few feet away and the actual river bottom is about 200' below you. As you near the end, you will see a rope leading back to the surface. Simply grab the rope and ascend to your safety stop, then up to the surface. You will find yourself near the bay where a gentle swim will bring you back to the dive boat. 

The Lillie Parsons provides an enjoyable wreck dive and drift dive all in one. A flag and chase boat are stressed. 

The Rothesay 

 

Built: 1868
Sunk: September 12, 1889

Depth: 20' - 30'
Ability: Novice 

 

A shore dive found on Hwy #2 just East of Brockville at the end of Merwin Lane. There is a change booth at the road-side park. From there follow the steps at the East end of the parking area (recently fixed up by SOS) down to the beach where you can suit up at the picnic tables. Looking out into the river you'll see some buoys and jugs. The jug closest to shore is what you're looking for. From there a rope will guide you through the weed bed and onto the wreck. 

This 193' wooden twin sidewheel passenger steamer sank when she collided with a tug in 1889. Latter in 1901, the Royal Military College, Kingston, used her for explosive practice and left behind the "debris field" in the midsection. 

She sits in 20' - 30' of water facing upstream with hardly any current. The guide rope will bring you just ahead of the stern. As you make your way to the bow you'll pass her fallen smokestack and what is left of the starboard paddle wheel. Only the metal rings are left as other divers have removed the wooden paddles. 

Coming onto her bow you will see the undercut where she struck the tug. The "chain locker" is easily visible through this hole. Drifting down her length there are many metal pipes and timbers to watch out for. Just ahead of the boilers her "walking beam" rests over the keel. Her stern is intact and the "rudder post" still stands as if waiting to be turned by the captain. 

A great site for less experienced divers and very popular as a night dive. Numerous fish and pike live around the site. Pulling yourself along the Rothesay Express, many smaller fish will dart in and out of the weed bed on either side of you. 

P.S. Look for the purser's safe! 

 

Henry C. Daryaw 

 

Built: 1919
Sunk: November 21 1941

Depth: 90 feet
Ability: Advanced

 

The Henry C. Daryaw is a steel freighter built in GD. Quevilly, France in 1919. She is 219' x 35' x 13' with a gross tonnage of 1265. While crossing a shoal around Crossover Island on Nov. 21, 1941 she tore a large gash in her starboard side. 

The crew was fortunate to row ashore, and only the ships mechanic was lost onboard. Numerous salvage attempts to pull her more firmly on to the shoal (with cables from steam tractors on the cliff) failed when the cables broke and she slipped upside down to the bottom of the shoal (90' depth) with her bow facing upstream. 

The surface current is quite quick (2-3 knots), although once you reach the bottom, it becomes less. As you descend the mooring line you will be greeted by her large twin propellers. A second rope leads you around her starboard side and looking up under the wreck you can see the ladder that once lead to the wheel house, the cargo holds and assorted deck fittings. 

Reaching her bow, many divers will climb her keel and drift down the back of the wreck. There you can see the gash that caused her sinking. 

Due to the many portholes and open hatchways, a dive light is recommended to look inside the wreck. Penetration however is strongly discouraged as the interior is starting to decay and fall in. 

The Daryaw Drift

 

For those who like to see the various changes in the river bottom, the Daryaw Drift offers vast rock formations and troughs to follow. Begin by descending the mooring line at the Daryaw. After a quick look at the twin props, with your buddy in tow - you simply let yourself drift with the currents. As you break over the rock ledge directly behind the wreck you'll be around 40 feet depth. From here you have a choice of three courses to follow. 

Keeping more to the left, you'll see various rock formation and sudden depth changes to keep an eye on. Eventually you may finish your dive near the old Dockers place. 

Allowing the river currents to carry you along, you'll pass over several troughs and the depth is generally the same throughout the dive. This time you may reach the Lighthouse down stream of the Daryaw. 

Finally, you could move more South and actually follow the several rock passages as they lead back toward the river channel. 

When doing any drift diving in the river, it is highly recommended that you carry a Dive Flag at all times. It makes it easier for other boaters to see you, the Captain will know where you are, and can be near by when you finish your dive.

AMERICA

 

Sunk: July 29 1932

Depth: 70 feet

Ability: Advanced

 

The American is a 297 ton steam screw drill
barge that sank on July 29, 1932. She sits
upside down at 70' depth off of Dark Island
in the shipping channel. She is accessed off
the side of the shoal (35' depth) by dropping over the edge and following a bearing towards the castle, you should see the support legs extend over her profile. The bow is upstream (50' depth) and by descending to the deck (65' depth) you can see across and under her (cluttered with equipment and winches). At the stern you will see twin props, rudder (surprisingly small), and the four large support legs (used while she was drilling) as well as the blasted rock on the bottom between her and the shoal. The props are at 50' to 55' depth and the bottom is at 72' rock/silt/sand. 

Exit from the wreck should be made along the access rope to the buoy, keeping note of oncoming shipping traffic. This site is not recommended for biginning divers due to it being in the downstream lane of the main shipping channel. The current is approximately 1-2 knots; however it can vary due to changing river conditions. 

Remember it is illegal to tie up to buoys being in the shipping channel.

For entry into the U.S., group leaders can  fill in the downloadable Customs Form, please submit this to the shop 1 week prior to each dive trip to U.S. waters. You will need a form for each trip.

A. E. Vickery 

 

Built: July, 1861
Sunk: August 16, 1889

Depth: 65' - 118'

Ability: Advanced 

 

The Vickery was a schooner originally launched as the J.B. Penfold in 1861 and renamed in 1884. She struck a shoal in August of 1889 and sank. The Pilot was nearly killed by angry Captain Massey who shouted profanities and pointed a revolver at him but the ships mate came to the rescue and pitched the revolver overboard at an opportune moment. This site has a strong surface current with the wreck starting at 65'.with the opportunity of penetrating the wreck if you are appropriately certified.

For entry into the U.S., group leaders can  fill in the downloadable Customs Form, please submit this to the shop 1 week prior to each dive trip to U.S. waters. You will need a form for each trip.

The Sir Robert Peel 

 

Built: 1837
Sunk: May 29, 1838

Depth: 80' - 135'

Ability: Advanced 

 

The Peel is a small sidewheel passenger steamer built in Brockville in 1837 had a very short life above the water line. During the Upper Canada Rebellion Pirate Bill Johnson stole the Peel but unable to start the ship they set it on fire! You'll find the burned out remains of this historic ship wreck resting with her stern in 135', the bow in 95' and the boiler in 80' in a fairly strong current on the US side of the river.

For entry into the U.S., group leaders can  fill in the downloadable Customs Form, please submit this to the shop 1 week prior to each dive trip to U.S. waters. You will need a form for each trip.

J.B. King


Sunk: June 26, 1930

Depth: to 155 feet

Ability: Technical

 

The "King" was a 140 Ft. wooden drill barge owned by John P. Porter and sons of St. Catharine. She was engaged in drilling and blasting to deepen the "narrows" to 27 Ft. when she was struck by lightening and exploded June 26, 1930. 

U.S. Revenue Cutter "Succor" (CG 211) was patrolling nearby and heard the explosion, racing to the scene recovered 10 of the total 11 that survived out of a total 43 that had been onboard. 

The site is just north of Cockburn Island in quick current and runs to 155 Ft. depth at the edge of the downstream lane of the shipping channel. Due to the currents and depth, this is a Technical dive. 

A large grannet monument on Cockburn Island pays tribute to the men who lost their lives that night. Please respect the hard efforts of these men by not disturbing the wreck while visiting the site. 

Kinghorn

 

Built: 1890's
Sunk: April 27, 1897
Depth: 92'
Ability: Intermediate - Advanced 

 

Also know as the Rockport Wreck while SOS was researching and identifying the vessel found in 1995 by the infamous Ron MacDonald of Seaway Valley Divers, the Kingshorn is a 130' schooner-barge that was one of seven being towed by a powerful tug bound for Montreal. She sank along with 3 others (but unfortunately, not all at the same site) in a storm and sits in around 92' of water with a medium current. This lovely wreck is a photographers delight with some awesome ships parts including an intact ships wheel, bilge pumps and a pot bellied stove to name but a few.

 

Ash Island wreck (Belly Dumper) 

 

Ability: Intermediate - Advanced 

 

From Rockport, Ontario, a short boat trip West to Ash Island. Usually a small jug marking the site and following the jug line down the island side will bring you to the wreck site. Ash Island barge is located at the south east end of Ash Island in 80 to 120 feet of water. Lots of Periwinkle shells are scattered around the site. 

This is a wooden barge 30’x 40’. There is no superstructure to speak of yet there are two or three holds where you can still see her cargo of rock. You can also see some of the mechanisms for opening the bottom and dumping the cargo. 

In the water the shore line drops off quickly with a rock bottom. The wreck lies in a bay and the current starts 50 feet off the wreck and it is very ease to dive this site with virtually no current. If you go off the wreck there is a fairly strong current that will take you down river fast, if this does happen swim north. Boat traffic can be heavy at times and a safety sausage is recommend. 

Brockville Wall Dive 

 

Built:
Sunk:
Depth: to 100'
Ability: Intermediate - Advanced 

 

Just East of downtown Brockville, halfway between the Muskie and the Gaskin you will find the underwater walls which provide varying levels of difficulty. You can stay shallow or go deep without going too far from shore and the current varies in places giving you a slow drift or a fast ride down the river. You can also find many old 'treasures' as you go along, new items are being uncovered all the time.

Free unlimited shore diving available at:

  • Centeen Park in Brockville across the road from Dive Brockville Adventure Centre.

  • The Rothesay Hwy #2 East at the end of Merwin Lane between Maitland and Prescott Across from the new Rothesay Restaurant.

  • The Conestoga Hwy #2 East, Cardinal at the end of Shanley Road.

  • Prescott Park off the old coal docks at Prescott's waterfront.

  • Rockport Wall Rockport, Ontario, off the 1000 Island Parkway. 

The Torpedo Run 

 

Depth: 24'
Ability: Intermediate - Advanced 

Dive Prepration: You will need at least Two vehicles.


One at the beginning, Lock 28, and another vehical at the Conestoga Parking Area to bring you back around. 

Starting at the Wee Hawk, drift along the old lock floor. There is some debris in the middle of the canal that breaks the current and attracts large walleyes. You will see the bottom change and as you drift along. keep to your right as you drift out of the lock and enter the canal. As you get closer to the "Gap" you will feel the current pulling you through the gap. It is suggested that you hold on to your partner to prevent getting separated. As you race through the gap the current will throw you out into the current of the main channel, which can be swift. 

Keep to your LEFT! 

With a little work, you will feel the current slowing and a sloping wall to your Left. Stay around 25 feet, watch your air consumption, and you are likely to be able to get a quick look at the Conestoga on the same drift. 

 

The Rockport Wall 

 

Ability: Intermediate - Advanced 

 

Located in the town of Rockport this wall dive is accessible as a shore dive after asking for permission from the restaurant to dive off of their dock or as a boat dive where your boat drifts along with you (attended of course!) This wall is a popular check out site for advance dive courses as you can go as deep as you want to go in nice easy levels. Remember to never go deeper than your training or experience dictates. 

Additionaly you can take a short boat ride to two other great wall dives from Rockport. Further upstream is a nice wall dive that can reach over 200 feet in depth. However you can enjoy the shelfs that make up the wall formations and see some of the local fish life. 

Across the bay along the shores of Club Island you can enjoy a long drift dive as you watch the wall glide by where your boat drifts along with you. Most divers will end up in a quiet bay where the boat will be waiting to pick you up. 

Centeen Memorial Dive Park

Created: 2015

Depth: 35 - 40 feet
Ability: Novice

We can now offer charters to view these staues!

Brockville, Ontario has become the first community in Canada to host an underwater sculpture park!

Known as the Centeen Memorial Dive Park and located in the St. Lawrence River, it is populated with concrete statues of people, sturgeons and even park benches aimed at preventing novice divers from accidentally damaging the area’s shipwrecks—some which date back to the War of 1812.

The statues have various themes including nature and commemoration. One series in the park consists of five human sculptures looking upward as a memorial to those who have lost their lives on the busy St. Lawrence Seaway.

Creation of the park started in 2015 with the assistance of the City of Brockville, as well and the students of our local schools who constructed many of the statues. Currently there are 24 statues in the water. On June 18th 2016 up to 9 more were added to the park—including mermaids, turtles, more humans, and a clownfish inspired by the Disney character Nemo.

Remember to get your Dive Token! The annual fee is $10.00 but will help pay to upgrade the facilities at Centeen Park to enhance the diver experience. Funds raised will allow us to maintain, improve and expand the newly created Centeen Memorial Dive Park and underwater Sculpture Park. Its a small price to pay for unlimited access to this excellent diving resource!

Dive token also makes an excellent souvenir of your diving experience in Brockville, "Home of the Best Fresh Water Diving in the World!"

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