Wreck of the Gertrude



Submitted By:
Bryan Heit

Submitter Comments:
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.

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)

"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.

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:
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


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Dive Site Links:   (If you have a relevant link for Wreck of the Gertrude, please write us here.)
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Diver Reviews:    Click here to write a Site Review, and share any new information about this site!

08/18/2014 Phil C. (Avg: 3.17 Review) - Just completed my advanced open water at Emerald Bay. Visibility was variable but generally in the 10 to 20 foot range. Naturally the Gertrude made the option of a wreck dive possible, and a lot of fun. It's a great place to do the dry suit specialty. I'll go back.

11/04/2009 Danny Christie (Avg: 2.77 Review) - (No Comment)

08/27/2007 Anonymous (Avg: 3.14 Review) -

09/29/2005 Bryan Heit (Avg: 2.91 Review) - I have dived this site 15 or 20 times over the year. For those landlocked in Alberta, this wreck is a nice change from the usual lake and pool dives we do. This dive is best done in the early spring (before runoff), or in late fall (just before the freeze). In the summer months the lake is quite silty, and it can be very hard to see anything. Vis is much better in the early spring or late fall. This site is an excellent place for beginner and intermediary divers. It's also a great place for a night dive. Often, schools of fish can be found inside of the wreck. The entry/exit is easy, there are great facilities right at the lake (cook shelters, toilettes, tables), and you're only 5 minutes away from the ice cream store!

Dive Site Pictures:
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Diver Averages for  Wreck of the Gertrude  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  5.00
Bottom Conditions:  3.00
Reef Conditions:  1.75
Animal Life:  2.25
Plant Life:  1.75
Facilities:  4.50
Solitude 4.00
Roads:  5.00
*Site Average:  3.00

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  2.25
Beginner Scuba:  4.75
Intermediate Scuba:  3.75
Advanced Scuba:  3.25
Night diving Scuba:  3.75

Number of reviews for this site: 4


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