Hunting New England Shipwrecks

Nova Scotia Shiprecks

shipwrecks, ship wrecks, nova scotia, cape breton, canadaNot far from New England, and just a ferry ride from Portland or Bar Harbor, Maine, lies the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. This maritime province is made up of the rugged Nova Scotia mainland, and the dramatic and remote Cape Breton Island. Nova Scotia is surrounded by a treacherous coast, and over the years, storms, fog and uncharted reefs have claimed a heavy toll of ships in the area. Today, Nova Scotia is home to the greatest collection of shipwrecks in North America. 

Nova Scotia Photo Gallery

Excellent diving services and tourism accommodations are available for Nova Scotia visitors, and you can take your car or truck with you on the ferry. And with today's monetary exchange rate, $1.00 US buys about $1.50 worth of goods and services in Canada. If you're looking for a great vacation value and some world-class wreck diving, a Nova Scotia dive trip can't be beat.

shipwrecks, ship wrecks, nova scotia, cape breton, canadaNova Scotia has a number of dive shops and dive charter services, but in the opinion of our editors, the most comprehensive services are offered by Divequest and Saint Paul Island Trading Company. Both of these companies (under the same ownership) offer a full line of diving services, including equipment sales and rental, diver training, charter boats, day-trips and expeditions. Divequest's headquarters is in Halifax. Saint Paul's headquarters is on Cape Breton Island. 

In addition to its wealth of shipwrecks, Nova Scotia is known for its cold, clear waters. Divers find that underwater visibility is usually good, and often exceeds 100 feet. Water temperatures off the Nova Scotia mainland are similar to those in New England, but the waters off Cape Breton are cold year round.  Most diving in that area is done in dry suits. Below is a brief description of the diving options available in various parts of Nova Scotia. 

The Nova Scotia mainland is the busiest part of the province, and most of its cities and towns are close to the ocean and have a distinct nautical character. Because of the undulating and rocky coastline, shipwrecks can be found almost anywhere. Some are deep, some are shallow, and some are high and dry on the rocks. You can take your pick of where to dive, and dive shops and charter boats are available in most areas.

Cape Breton Island is the remote, rugged, and dramatically beautiful part of the province. The towns are small, but the roads are good and visitors are always welcome. Cape Breton has several dive shops and charter boat services, and wreck diving is a popular activity for both natives and visitors. Hundreds of wrecks line the Cape Breton coast, and linking up with a local diving service is the best way to see them.

shipwrecks, ship wrecks, nova scotia, cape breton, cananaFifteen miles off the northern tip of Cape Breton lies the small, jagged island of Saint Paul. Located in the middle of a major sea lane, uninhabited Saint Paul has been snagging ships for centuries. In recent years, diving expeditions to Saint Paul have explored the remains of many shipwrecks in the area. Today divers can visit Saint Paul on day trips, or on multi-day expeditions. 

Many years ago, Nova Scotia played a key role in two White Star Line disasters. In 1873, the SS Atlantic, bound from Liverpool to New York, struck a ledge and sank near Halifax, with over 500 fatalities. And when the White Star liner Titanic sank in 1912, most of the survivors and recovered bodies were brought to Halifax because it was the nearest port. The dead from both of these disasters were buried in mass graves in the Halifax area.

And finally, for all you artifact hounds, we're sorry to report that per Canadian law, shipwreck artifact collecting is not allowed. But on the bright side of the issue, the goodies are still there to look at, and it's OK to bring home as many pictures and memories as you can handle.

For details on Nova Scotia history, tourism, diving services and more, check out the informative Websites on the links list below.

Sable Island
Graveyard of the Atlantic

About 150 miles east of Halifax lies a treacherous sandbank known as Sable Island. Often shrouded in fog, Sable Island has been trapping and sinking ships for hundreds of years. History shows that ships that get stuck there almost never get off. And many of them disappear in a short time beneath the ever-shifting sand. Because of its many shipwrecks, Sable Island is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. The island is a fragile and protected area, and is generally off limits to visitors. The Sable Island Websites listed below provide historical information and pictures of the island and its shipwrecks. 


Links to Related Websites

  explore.gov.ns.ca/ Explore Nova Scotia 
www.gov.ns.ca/tourism.htm Official tourism site
www.scotiaprince.com/ Portland/Yarmouth ferry
www.catferry.com/ Bar Harbor/Yarmouth ferry
Nova Scotia Dive Shops List of dive shops & links
www.Divequest.ca  Nova Scotia diving
www.saintpaul.ca  Cape Breton & Saint Paul diving
Saint Paul Island History & map
SS Atlantic White Star Line steamer
Nova Scotia's Titanic connections Titanic memorials
 Sable Island Website Graveyard of the Atlantic
Sable Island Shipwrecks  Maritime Museum's site
Sable Island Gallery Photos by Paul Illsley
Visit Seal Island Island history & photos
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Nova Scotia Photo Gallery
Click on thumbnail images to see larger views
ns-capebreton-nsgov.jpg (47092 bytes) ns-peggyscoveharbor.jpg (29205 bytes) ns-capedorlight-nsgov.jpg (57507 bytes)
Cape Breton Highlands
National Park
Rush hour in Peggy's Cove
Cape d'Or Light
ns-capenorth-staintpaul-mil.jpg (46444 bytes) ns-dingwallshopext-mil.jpg (68509 bytes) ns-dingwallshopint-mil.jpg (102447 bytes)
Cape North (Cape Breton)
and Saint Paul Island - in haze
(Dave Millhouser photo)
Dive shop in
Dingwall, Cape Breton
(Dave Millhouser photo)
Dingwall dive shop interior
(Dave Millhouser photo)
ns-diveteam.jpg (18371 bytes) ns-expedition2001.jpg (21852 bytes) ns-robnterry.jpg (15220 bytes)
Nova Scotia divers
hunting shipwrecks
Saint Paul Island
wreck diving expedition
Diving Cape Breton
ns-wolffish.JPG (22897 bytes) ns-map-atlasofcanada.jpg (119907 bytes) ns-saintpaul1.jpg (39211 bytes)
Nova Scotia wolffish
a frequent diver's companion
(Photo from the Web)
Nova Scotia map
(Atlas of Canada)
Saint Paul Island
(Saint Paul Island)
ns-saintpaulbeach-mil.JPG (32007 bytes) ns-saintpaulboat-mil.JPG (36609 bytes) ns-saintpaul-terryanchor-mil.JPG (12691 bytes)
Divers land on
Saint Paul Island
(Dave Millhouser photo)
Dive boat anchored
off Saint Paul
(Dave Millhouser photo)
Diver checks anchor
on an old Saint Paul wreck
(Dave Millhouser photo)
atlantic-cur-ives1.jpg (53005 bytes) ns-atlantic-arts-coc.JPG (18585 bytes) ns-atlantic-mem-lostatsea.jpg (21276 bytes)
White Star Liner SS Atlantic
wrecked near Halifax in 1873
(Currier & Ives print)
Artifacts recovered from
the SS Atlantic
(Greg Cochkanoff collection)
SS Atlantic memorial
in seaside cemetery
ns-blackbrookbeach.jpg (31799 bytes) Oceanic-1871.jpg (47727 bytes) ns-halifax2.jpg (20420 bytes)
A beautiful
Nova Scotia beach
SS Oceanic
sister ship of  SS Atlantic
Halifax waterfront
on a summer night
ns-sealisand-shipswheel.jpg (36909 bytes) danielsteinmann2.jpg (63139 bytes) ns-sealislandwreck1.jpg (15441 bytes)
Old ship's wheel
on Seal Island, near Yarmouth
(Visit Seal Island)
Diver explores wreck
of the Daniel Steinmann
(Author's collection)
Abandoned ship
on Seal Island
(Visit Seal Island)
ns-sableislandwreck.jpg (9371 bytes) sableisland-illssley.JPG (39781 bytes) ns-gulfofsaintlawrence-nasa.jpg (61034 bytes)
Sable Island wreck
old photo
(Maritime Museum)
Sable Island - sand, seals
wild horses & shipwrecks
(Paul Illsley photo)
Nova Scotia from space
(NASA Visible Earth)

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