Top Snorkeling and Scuba Diving in Alberta
Wreck of the Gertrude
The Gertrude was a turn of the century steam paddle wheeler, and was purposefully scuttled in Emerald bay in 1918, right behind the famous Prince of Wales hotel. She lies with her stern facing the shore, and her bow in the middle of the bay. The stern is in 7-10m (20'-30') of water and the bow is at ~18m (60'). The exact location of the wreck changes year-to-year, as the winter ice moves the wreck. However, finding the ship is easy. Enter the water beside the water tap and swim directly away from shore until you reach the drop off. Turn right and follow the drop off until you can see the wreck. The stern is shallowest, but unfortunately the wheel is no longer present. As you move towards the bow you'll encounter various machinery, including pistons, drive shafts, and a big boiler. The bow is at about 50', and buried in the silt. Visibility at the stern is usually good (7-10m/20/30'), but this drops off quickly towards the bow. At the bow vis is usually low (often less then 60cm/2'). Much of the wreck has disintegrated - in many places no planking is left. Much of this damage has been caused by SCUBA divers. Please try to not touch the wreck. Around the wreck are some other artifacts, including a small row boat. Little life is present, aside from some fish which live beneath the wreck. Emerald bay does allow boats, so you must carry a flag. Note also that this lake is in the mountains and as such an altitude table, or altitude compatible computer, is required. The water can be extremely cold, particularly in early spring and late fall. Please protect this wreck, as it is one of the only ones in the province.<br><br>The following was found by Chris Morrison in the Alberta History Magazine, Vol. 32, No. 2. (You'll note the boat's floating life was only 11 years, but she's a fine example of the value of recycling!! -- Chris)<br><br>"The Gertrude was built in 1907 on Maskinonge Lake in Waterton to serve Henry Hanson's sawmill which was located there. She was 100 feet, 6 inches long with a deck length of 85 feet and a width of 18 feet and drew only eight inches of water which allowed her to navigate the shallow river sections between the lakes during high water periods. When a flood damaged Hanson's sawmill in June, 1908 she languished and saw little service. In 1915 the Gertrude became an excursion vessel. In 1916 she was moored on the southeast shore of what is now Emerald Bay and turned into a tea room and restaurant. In 1918 park officials ordered the boat either be removed or scuttled. The owners chose the latter and she has been resting at the bottom of the bay ever since. For many years, the bay was known as Steamboat Bay in her honor." This dive is located in the town of Waterton, in Waterton National Park. This park is located in the south-west corner of Alberta, right across the boarder from Glacier National Park in the USA. To get to the dive site, go to the ranger's station in the town of Waterton (this is near the entrance to the town). Immediately across the road from the station is the entrance to Emerald Bay picnic area. Park in the picnic area. That's it.<br> <br>WARNING! Motor-boats (and others) are allowed in Emerald Bay as long as they stay below the 10 km/hr speed limit. Divers must have a diving buoy at their dive location, per:<br> Parks Canada, C. Locke Marshall, Manager Communications and Visitor Services, Waterton Lakes National Park, Box 200, Waterton Park, Alberta T0K 2M0 (403) 859-5121 fax 859-5152
Twin Lake, Winfield
This is mostly a beginner training location. Courses are held here by various dive clubs. The lake is small and easily navigated. It has an incredible depth of 110 feet; yes I said 110 feet! The normal training area is in water of about 25 feet to 50 feet. While most newbies will go into this water using a 7mm wetsuit; they earn the appreciation of their peers using drysuits. Water temperature at the surface is about 62f degrees, while at about 40-50 feet you might find an area that will drop to 38f degrees. This is also a zero to 25 foot visibility dive site; limited visibility. The bottom of this lake is very silty and easily stirred by newbie divers. When diving in these types of conditions it is a great time to work on buoyancy because you only have your computer to tell you your depth or your compass to tell you what direction you are going in. The local dive club has done a great job of mapping out courses for divers. Police tape is used at the bottom to guide divers to an underwater platform at 25 feet. There are plenty of things to see under the water, fish, BBQ, typewriter, small boat, six foot suspended chicken, etc. While this is more of a training location, it does offer unique challenges for intermediate to advance divers alike. Try your navigation techniques in zero to limited visibility. The depth of this lake combined with its chilly temperatures will definitely leave an impression. North 52 57'00.0 West 114 22'00.0 This site is in central/south Alberta. North-West of Red Deer, South-West of Edmonton, exactly west of Wetaskiwin, and very close to Winfield, Alberta. There are back road possibilities to get to this location, but the easiest to describe is: <br>1. Take Highway 2 to Wetaskiwin, Go West. <br>2. Take Highway 13 to Twin Lakes. <br>When you are getting close you can not help but notice the rollercoaster style of hill you are about to climb. From the bottom of this hill it will be about 11km to the turn. There is one sign for Twin Lakes which is virtually right beside the turn. Chances are that if you are reading the sign and traveling at 100kph, you will miss the turn off. Please be careful when breaking. Turn south onto dirt road. The road is curvy and leads to the lake, stay right. Once you see the lake, stay on the road and keep driving till you see a large mobile trailer on your left. This trailer is from the local dive club. If you are beside the trailer, parking is located between the two trees, and directly in front of you on the grass.
Lake Minniwanka has been dammed 3 times in its history. The most recent dam, built in 1941, flooded the 1912 dam site, as well as an old bridge and town. Both of these sites are located a short distance away from the newest dam. The remnants of an old bridge can be found near the stairs located at the south end of the dam. Swim due east from the plaque on shore. Not much remains of the dam, aside from a few pilings and the bank heads. Depth is 15m(50') at the top, and 24m (80') at the bottom. The dam, pump house, and foundations of some support buildings can be found north of the bridge. The easiest way to find these objects is to park mid-way along the dam, and swim out at an ~60 degree bearing from the #12 sign. This should put you on the dam. If you find yourself in a valley turn to the right (60 degrees usually puts you a little north of the dam), and follow the valley to the dam. The damn itself contains a pump house, which you can swim through. The dam is completely intact, consists of both a concrete dam and wood/rock coffer, and is quite interesting to look at. Dam is usually at 18m (60') at the top and 27m (90') at the bottom. North of the dam are several other things you can look for - the foundations of several old support buildings, a well, an old row-boat, and other artifacts can be found in this region. Water is usually around 18m (60') here. There is also a complete town site located mid-lake. Some divers scooter from shore to this site, but for most divers it is out of reach unless they have a boat. Rumor has it that there is also an old ranger station/dock accessible from shore, although I have never seen the location of that site listed. Lastly, located east of the picnic area are a series of cliffs. Enter at the gravel bay, swim around the point, and follow the cliffs north. Often fish can be spotted here, and its a great place to look for fishing lures/gear. Depths to 21m/70'. Because this is a dammed lake the water levels can vary greatly. The depths listed here are the usual, although they can be up to 3m/10' deeper, and as much as 10m/30' shallower. Vis varies greatly - from >10m/30' in winter/spring, to as little as 15cm/6" during the worst of the run-off. The dam site is located in a protected area, but you should fly a flag if diving the cliffs or bridge. Lots of people fish of the gear - keep an eye out. This site is at 1500m/5000' above sea level - altitude tables are required. From the town of Banff take Banff Ave out of town, and follow it to Lake Minnewanka. There are three shore-accessible dive sites. For the bridge site, park at the stairs located on the south end of the dam. For the 1912 dam/foundations park mid-way along the dam, near the bend/#12 sign. The third site is the cliffs - park at the main parking lot and lug your gear to the picnic area.