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.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

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

‘Norovirus-like’ outbreak interrupts Bantam hockey showcase in Greater Victoria

Several athletes were sent home, quarantined on the ferry

Expect rolling street closures, bus delays as truck convoy moves through region Saturday

The annual Truck Light Convoy will roll through the region starting at 5:45 p.m.

Single mom caught up in Langford rental scam could be homeless for the holidays

Man took $3,900 cash for deposit and first month’s rent then disappeared

UPDATED: 64-year-old Victoria man David Atkins found

Atkins was found by Sooke RCMP on Saturday morning

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

B.C.-born hockey official talks to IIHF about switching European rule book to NHL rules

Rob Shick will represent NHL at 4th World Hockey Forum in Russia

Miller nets winner as Canucks edge Sabres 6-5 in OT

Roussel, Leivo tally two apiece for Vancouver

$578: that’s how much your first distracted driving ticket will cost with recent premium hikes

Over 50 per cent of Canadians admitted to using phone while driving last year, according to study

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

Most Read