Assiniboine River Yields a “Prairie Queen” to SCUBA Divers

by Betty Woods

Manitoba Pageant, January 1964, Volume 9, Number 2

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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Gil Lamothe, SCUBA diver, is about to go into the Assiniboine River to look for a missing child.

While they were in the middle of the river in about five feet of water, Gil Lamothe and his partner, Sandy Lockhart, found an old plow. They say that at this place in the river there is likely enough machinery to start a museum. Several journals of early explorers mention a passage across the Assiniboine River. The plow was found just about where that passage is believed to have been. Maybe an early settler was taking the plow across the river to lend it to a neighbour and the craft hauling it went to the bottom.

The Manitoba Archives has an illustrated catalogue of Westbrook and Fairchild, Winnipeg, 1890. In it is a picture of a plow about the same shape. It is called a John Deere “Prairie Queen”.

At the Smithsonian Institution, old farm machinery, locomotives, anything like that, which is recovered by divers, is put into the Division of Transportation. It all adds to historical knowledge and so is of value. The Smithsonian people are asked very often how to preserve materials found underwater.

The newest angle to the study of prehistory, Underwater Archaeology, practical and logical. Early man lived near water and so the objects at he used are likely to be found underwater, and will be in a good state of preservation as up to recently, human vandals could not reach them, because of their inaccessibility. Underwater Archaeology is the recovery and interpetation of cultural materials from under the water. Scuba divers play an important role in this, working with professional archaeologists.

In Manitoba, we have divers clubs with well-trained scuba divers eagerto help solve the riddle of who lived in Manitoba first and what they used for weapons and household goods. A SCUBA diver may come up with an artifact that will tell the story.

Page revised: 1 July 2009