Most recipients of the Order of Canada are honoured for what they have done on dry land. Not Phil Nuytten. The British Columbia diver has been an active innovator under water.
Nuytten, now 76, was a commercial diver who liked to develop his own equipment. His contribution to diving included his work on diving helmets, support gear and submarines. One of his best innovations was a suit that enabled divers access to the cold and deep Arctic waters.
He also was involved with an expedition to find the wreck of the HMS Breadalbane, a ship that had been sent from England to supply the Sir John Franklin ships that were searching for the Northwest Passage.
The HMS Breadalbane soon sailed into pack ice. The ship was abandoned but not before taking supplies Later, the ship was lost when ice broke through the hull. The Breadalbane sank to the bottom of the Barrow Strait. It was wrecked near Beechey Island in Nunavut.
The Breadalbane wreck is now part of the Beechey Island Sites. It is a 19th-century, 500-ton sailing ship that includes the hull, fragments of the vessel and the debris field caused by the sinking of the ship..
Always looking ahead, Nuytten wants to see a colony built on the bottom of the ocean in British Columbia’s Burrard Inlet. It would be self-sustaining and people could stay submerged up to four months.