Recently in Kingston Ontario was a somewhat sad sight for those of the city, and those who have enjoyed and supported the Marine Museum in the city. The retired Coast Guard Light Icebreaker Alexander Henry slowly departed her berth at the Marine Museum, where she has lived since 1985.
Being pushed by a tug, the Alexander Henry slowly moved along the Kingston shoreline, and will travel past Amherst Island, Bath and Adolphustown to its temporary home at the Picton terminal. The Alexander Henry will remain here while the City of Kingston conducts feasibility studies on sinking her as a dive site.
On June 29 the city of Kingston held a special sitting of council to discuss the future of the Marine Museum, including what will be the fate of the Alexander Henry. In the meeting councillors unanimously voted in favour of the proposal to sink the Alexander Henry off the shore of Kingston. The motion, which was enthusiastically supported by Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson, was viewed as an opportunity to rejuvenate the dive industry in Kingston, as well provide fresh water reefing, which would provide habitat for local marine wildlife.
As anyone who has had any involvement in the sinking of ships for reefing and dive sites knows, the process has only begun. Despite the motion being passed in favour of sinking the Alexander Henry, bringing that dream to fruition will take time, money and several environmental approvals. Despite the challenges that will lie ahead this move by the City of Kingston is encouraging. It appears that the Marine Museum will be saved, and will, for now, remain in Kingston. The City of Kingston has shown that it is ready and willing to support the dive community with what could become one of the top dive sites in Ontario, if not Canada.
Kingston and the Thousand Islands, attracts divers from all over the world to dive on stunning wrecks, in fresh water. This also contributes to the local businesses, with many divers planning multi-day dive trips. It appears Kingston recognizes this potential.
A new wreck in Kingston is what the dive industry in this area needs, and it is hoped that the dive community in Kingston and the Thousand Islands, and all over Ontario will rally behind this proposal. Divers need to support this project and encourage the city to find the means to sink the Alexander Henry, rather than sending her to the scrap heap.
As a diver, and a person who works in the dive industry, it is this writer’s hope that the sinking of the Alexander Henry does become a reality. I, for one, will not only be following this story, but working with Kingston where possible to provide assistance in bringing this dream to light. Follow the Scuba News Canada, and watch for updates on the Alexander Henry.