Thunder Bay·Audio

Thunder Bay-area efforts to attract dive tourism focus on wreck near Silver Islet

A shipwreck off Trowbridge Island in Lake Superior, south of the Sleeping Giant near Thunder Bay, Ont., is the focus of ongoing efforts to attract tourism to the area.

The sinking of the Theano resulted in the lighthouse on Trowbridge Island being built, says Richard Harvey

Efforts are underway this year to start marketing a shipwreck near Trowbridge Island, south of the Sleeping Giant, to expert divers. It's part of ongoing work to attract dive tourism to northwestern Ontario. (CBC)
Shipwrecks and lighthouses, what better combination to attract tourism in the northwest. Richard Harvey talks about the latest efforts to highlight the hundreds of shipwrecks in Lake Superior.

A shipwreck off Trowbridge Island in Lake Superior, south of the Sleeping Giant, is the focus of ongoing efforts to attract tourism to the area.

The large number of wrecks in the lake near Thunder Bay and the north shore means there is a lot of potential to bring in dive tourism, said Richard Harvey, the mayor of Nipigon, and an avid diver.

Current efforts are focussed on a sunken freighter named the Theano, which went down just off Trowbridge Island.

"It's right there, it's a deep wreck starting at about 270 feet, so this is not a typical recreational dive," he said. "This is a technical diver's type of site, but it brings attention to our area if we have the success there that we're hoping to have."

That hope includes bringing a world-renowned dive team to the northwest to explore the site, Harvey said, adding that very few people have attempted to dive at the site.

Developing a marketing strategy aimed at expert divers, particularly from Europe, would then be the goal, he said.

Shipwreck diving ties in well with lighthouse restoration efforts: Harvey

The promotion of shipwreck sites to divers works well with ongoing projects to restore lighthouses along the north shore of Lake Superior, Harvey added.

"What better experience as a diver, as an international explorer, than to come into an area to stay at an old historic lighthouse and go dive on the wrecks that hit the rocks where that lighthouse is now built," he said.

"I mean, the opportunities there I think are immense."

Other efforts aimed at divers this year include expanding a project that marks area shipwrecks with buoys, in order to better highlight them, Harvey continued. The end goal of that project is to create a type of trail from the U.S. border northeast, initially, to Marathon by putting the mooring buoys on wrecks along that expanse.

"People can come into the area, can start at either end and go right through the entire region, diving every day on a different wreck," he said.

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