Jasper National Park Scuba Diving

Patricia Lake, just north of the town of Jasper, is the main scuba diving site in Jasper National Park. The lake conceals the remains of a secret experiment to build an ice-covered barge that was to be used in the mid-Atlantic as a refueling dock for Allied aircraft. In September 1942, Geoffrey Pyke, an inventor and consultant to Admiral Lord Mountbatten, chief of Combined Operations, suggested that the Allied forces construct an artificial iceberg to be used like an aircraft carrier, ensuring safe sea borne landings and to be used for refuelling. He proposed that the iceberg almost one kilometre long be levelled off and even hollowed out to conceal aircraft. Pyke named the project Habbakuk after an Old Testament prophet (unknowingly misspelling Habakkuk).  In early 1943, naval engineers and architects arrived in Jasper to build a scaled-down model of Habbakuk on Patricia Lake. Under cover of a 20-metre-long shelter, a refrigeration system was developed and the ideal ratio of sawdust and ice was perfected. By late 1943, with budget overruns and an unrealistic timeframe for construction of the floating aircraft carrier, Habbakuk was officially shut down. Subsequently, the refrigeration system was dismantled, leaving the shelter to eventually settle on the bottom of Patricia Lake. In 1988, Susan Langley, research director for the Alberta Underwater Archaeology Society, sank a cairn to mark the historical relevance of the unique site.

For more information on the dive site, contact one of the Edmonton dive shops listed on the Alberta Underwater Council website (www.albertaunderwatercouncil.com).

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