June 1969 (Fifty Years Ago): Sublimnos Submerged in Little Dunk’s

Courtesy of Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre, A2014.003.K-69-14, Bruce Krug.
Submitted by Kerry Adams

TOBERMORY – In June 1969, Canada’s first under water research station, known as Sublimnos, was christened with two bottles of champagne which refused to break.
Designed and commissioned by Dr. Joseph B. MacInnis, a veteran Canadian diver and marine scientist and consultant to the U.S. Navy’s Sealab, Sublimnos was submerged in Little Dunk’s Bay at a depth of twenty-five feet.
Dr. MacInnis spent $15,000 of his own money to build the research lab and also got grants from the National Geographic Society of Washington D.C. No financial assistance from the Provincial and Federal Governments was provided.
For those not familiar with Sublimnos, it was an air-filled chamber eight feet wide and nine feet high forming the top-section of the underwater habitat. The base contained approximately five tons of ballast to keep it anchored to the lake bottom.
It became a classroom for students from the U.S. and Canada. Scientist did research on fish habitats, water algae, sediment and currents.

Sublimnos at its current location on a farm near Picton, ON. Photo Credit: Jane Greenhouse

Inside Sublimnos, groups were down for six to seven hours at a time. Once inside, they were able to talk, write and take photographs. The lab operated during the winter months when divers had to cut through the ice to get to the habitat.
Sublimnos was discontinued in 1988.
The following excerpts were taken from a 2016 SOKF article submitted by Graham Draper and John Greenhouse:
“The Sublimnos project was maintained (in Tobermory) for over three years using volunteers to manage the divers and support functions. By 1972, MacInnis realized that Sublimnos had reached the end of its effective life in Dunks Bay. He worked out an agreement with Seneca College where it was transported to and installed in a lake on Seneca’s King Campus. It remained in use until 1988 when it was moved to Prince Edward County and submerged off Point Traverse in 1990. Unfortunately, provincial funding for the program was cut the following year and Sublimnos was abandoned, used only as a destination for recreational divers. The top chamber was pulled from the water by a local dive shop in 2007 and subsequently moved to a farm near Picton, where it remains.”