Jacques Marc

Shipwreck mystery lurks in the depths of Cadboro Bay

Two people who died were believed to have locked themselves in a cabin to save the large sums of money they held.

In the afternoon of July 28, 1885, the Enterprise, a sidewheel paddle steamer carrying freight, livestock and passengers from New Westminster to Victoria, collided with another steamboat near Ten Mile Point.

Passengers and crew on the Enterprise panicked and jumped overboard to save themselves when the vessel’s lifeboats weren’t deployed. The two people who died were believed to have locked themselves in a cabin to save the large sums of money they held.

A third steamer towed the Enterprise into Cadboro Bay, where it was visible in shallow waters until the early 1900s.

Jacques Marc, explorations director of the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia, began piecing together the tale of the Enterprise in 1987. Its existence is well-documented in historical records, but the wreck itself is yet to be found.

“The Enterprise is a mystery,” said Marc, noting the society’s ongoing efforts to locate the wreck over the years. “I’ve gone out and dug holes in Cadboro Bay. …We’ve searched for it numerous times and side scanned and found nothing – but it’s there. We’ve got pictures of it sitting about 100 yards off shore.”

In two searches, items were found but they were determined to be remnants of wharfs. Yet the existence of coal, the boat’s fuel source, scattered near the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, suggest the Enterprise isn’t far away.

“So far it’s eluded us and I don’t quite know why,” Marc said.

Disruption of the site by log booms and deterioration are two possible explanations for why the wreck has yet to be located. Adding to the difficulty, the engines were salvaged, so crews are no longer able to search for some of the bigger objects, including using modern methods, such as sonar, explained Marc.

“What we’re looking for is a scattering of small artefacts in a pretty big bay.”

The Enterprise is one of about 200 large vessel shipwrecks – both located sites and those which continue to elude local explorers – off the coast of Vancouver Island.

On April 25, Marc will take part in the Maritime Museum of B.C.’s What Lies Beneath lecture series. The veteran diver will present an overview of local shipwrecks and the modern technologies used to locate them during Discovering the Underwater Heritage of British Columbia at the museum, located in Bastion Square. Tickets are available at the door for the 6:30 p.m. talk, which costs $12 (or $10 for seniors and students). The event is free for museum members and children under 12.


The lost Enterprise

• In 1862, the roughly 43-metre-long steamboat was authorized to carry 16 crew and 150 passengers, yet typically carried a load of 250 passengers, 60 tons of freight, nine cattle and 23 pack animals between Victoria and New Westminster

Just Posted

Victoria painter splashes some colour on a dreary situation

Six-week long James Bay construction project gives Teresa Waclawik an impromptu canvas

Bike sharing program rolls into Saanich

According to staff, U-Bicycle plans to make between 75 and 100 bicycles available in Saanich.

Saanich Police speed reader board stolen

Traffic safety device taken from the 4700 block of Interurban Road

Man arrested, charged in connection with stabbing at Langford Lanes

Twenty-year-old Austin Bonner has been charged with aggravated assault

Group calls for limited access to backcountry roads near Jordan River

Victoria Fish and Game Protective Association says closures would limit misuse of woods

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Golden Knights win 4-1, remain undefeated against Canucks

Vegas gets points from 12 players in dominating effort versus Vancouver

City of Victoria seeks artists to contribute to upcoming public exhibitions

Submissions for Commercial Alley gallery, bus shelter project due by April 9

Alberta budget plans for Trans Mountain expansion

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says expected revenues will be factored into budget forecasts

Plane filled with smoke lands at Nanaimo Airport

WestJet flight came in from Vancouver

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Central Saanich fire causes ‘extensive damage’ to home

All three Saanich Peninsula fire departments responded to a structure fire on… Continue reading

Rescued Comox canoer credits those ‘at the right place, at the right time’

James Milne was rescued in a hypothermic state Sunday near Goose Spit

Most Read