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Local divers have discovered the first ship ever registered in the Dominion of Canada.
Registered in 1867, two local divers found the shipwreck just more than a year ago. The pair were unable to confirm their findings until now.
Diver Robert Valley explains how they found the Tugboat Mary Ann somewhat accidentally.
"We found the Mary Ann just on the other side of the Welcome Islands," Valley said during an interview with CKPR Radio Monday. "We were scanning for another ship, which we thought it was, so we put divers on it and found that it was a totally different ship."
After some measuring and research Valley began to understand the significance of his find.
"Canada's been around for quite a while and this was in our own backyard," he said.
"There's a lot out there that we haven't even found yet and this one is nice because it is within the range of a recreational diver."
Valley added that the ship, considering its age, still appears to be in remarkable shape.
Dive enthusiast and Nipigon mayor Richard Harvey said this discovery is another reason the region needs to become the place in Canada to dive for shipwrecks.
"There are hundreds of wrecks," he said of Lake Superior. "It's hard to imagine."
With clear water and no zebra mussels, the area is a prime location.
"The wrecks that we have here are beautifully preserved," he said. "It could be a destination for dive tourism."
Btu if that's going to happen, documentation is needed. Most wreck locations right now are known only by locals through landmarks.
"Everybody has their own secret places," Harvey said.
Developing a dive guide, building up capacity so that there are boats and equipment available to take tourist out to wrecks are just a few of the priorities needed to get the idea off the ground, Harvey said.
But being able to see the region's maritime history up close makes it all worth it. Diving into a wreck that hasn't been touched in sometimes hundreds of years is an amazing experience and one that could generate a lot of economic opportunity.
"To go out there actually under the water," Harvey said. "All of a sudden you see that massive hull coming up in front of you, you can't describe the excitement that comes from that."
(With files from CKPR Radio)
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