Home of some of the best freshwater diving in the world, Brockville Ontario sits on the edge of the mighty St. Lawrence River. Beautiful for the 1000s of Islands scattered along the waterway, these granite sentries are a playground for tourists, but historically they posed a much greater threat for vessels sailing into the Great Lakes for trade and commerce.
Hidden shoals and sudden storms drove many ships to crash against the rocks and sink to the depths below. This was the fate for the American two-masted schooner Lillie Parsons. Approaching Brockville in 1877 with a load of coal a sudden squall drove the 39 meter (131 ft) vessel onto a rock that shifted the cargo, causing her to take on water and sink off Sparrow Island in approximately 18 meters (60 ft) of water.
Lying upside-down among the rocks of river with coal scattered about, exploring the shipwreck as a SCUBA diver is a thrilling experience. Due to the extremely fast current it is not possible to finish the dive in the same place you started. At the wreck itself there is a chain installed by Save Ontario Shipwrecks to help divers pull themselves upriver to complete circuits of the Lillie, but in order to finish the dive you must let go and drift downriver alongside a cliff of rocks. After flying downstream you are eventually picked up in the sheltered bay of Sparrow Island.
Those adventurous enough to dive in the fresh waters of North America's Great Lakes are rewarded with 100s of easily accessible shipwrecks. The Lillie Parsons is a must for any serious diver who wants to experience the power of the St. Lawrence River and some of the best fresh water diving in the world!