This park was once the site of the Shawnigan Lake Lumber Company's log dump. Logs were hauled to a trestle by a steam locomotive and then dumped in the lake. The log boom was then towed across the lake by steamers to the mill (now the site of the Old Mill Park, where I dove before). I'm not sure when this log dump was operational, but the lumber company existed on the lake between 1889 and 1943 according to the B.C. Forest Discovery Centre. The currents, wind and visibility weren't cooperating down in Victoria so I drove up to Shawnigan Lake on June 12, 2016 to satisfy my curiosity on what might remain underwater from the log dump era.
I parked in the large parking lot and walked down a trail to a grassy field by the beach. In front of this field was the park's swimming area which was roped off in the water by a buoyed line. There were still some exposed pilings from the log dump trestle a bit South of this swimming area so I continued walking down another trail and entered the water in a tiny clearing closer to the pilings.
The marine chart shows a large, shallow area (less than 20' deep) in front of the park. I swam straight out and the bottom was covered with a forest of water plants. I had to swim out on the surface for awhile before I could descend and even then, the water was only about 4-6' deep. Visibility was maybe 10'.
I swam to where the pilings were near shore, but it was too shallow to swim (maybe 2' deep) and the water was stirred up from the wakes of boats so I couldn't see anything. I swam back out past the weeds and the bottom gradually sloped down. Below 15' deep, the plants thinned out and by 20' deep, the bottom was bare mud.
Between 25-30' deep I saw lots of colonies of branching freshwater sponges. This was a surprise. I had no idea these things existed. They varied from a few inches to 2' across. I also saw 2 large crayfish and a dead trout. The mud was deep and easily stirred up. When I put my camera and its tripod down on the bottom to take one of my self-portraits, the silt billowed up like a mushroom cloud and chased me along the bottom. My maximum depth was 32' and it was dark and gloomy down there.
So far I hadn't seen anything man made. Everything old enough to be from the logging days might have sunk into the deep, soft silt. As I was swimming along about 30' deep, I saw what looked like a baseball bat handle sticking up from the mud. I pulled on it and the silt swirled up dropping visibility to nothing. Whatever the object was, it was long and heavy. I swam out of the silt cloud to have a clearer view of what it was. It was a peavy, a 5 or 6 foot long pole with a metal spike and claw on the end. It was used by loggers on the floating booms to grab and position logs. The metal was in such good shape that I assumed it was bronze, but it might have been iron preserved in the deep oxygen-free mud. I carried it around for a while, thinking I'd take it home as some kind of awkwardly-sized souvenir. Whenever I put it down so I could take a picture of something it sank about 3 feet into the mud by it's own weight. I eventually decided to leave it in the lake (mostly buried in the mud like I found it to preserve the metal). I left it in a place where I can find it again if I decide to retrieve it for some reason. At 25' deep, the sponge colonies were bigger and greener than the ones at 30'.
I swam back up towards the shallows in the swimming area. This area had lots of fish. I saw groups of small sunfish, several foot-long bass and some fish with dark vertical stripes (yellow perch?). I didn't see any live trout or sculpins. Some areas were covered with mats of green stuff (cyanobacteria?).