Volvos Laid to Rest In Bedford Basin

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The Volvo Assembly Plant in Halifax, Nova Scotia was opened on June 11, 1963 by Prince Bertil (a member of the Swedish Royal Family). This plant was Volvo’s first assembly plant opened outside Sweden and North America’s first non-domestic auto plant. Volvo decided to open the plant in Canada to bypass heavy import tariffs on foreign goods from North America and capitalize on the newly signed Canadian / American Auto Pact. The plant employed about 200 workers and produced approximately 10,000 cars a year.

Bedford Basin is a large enclosed bay that forms Halifax Harbor’s northwestern end on the Atlantic coast of Canada. It is named in honor of the 4th Duke of Bedford, John Russell. When the German navy used submarines to disrupt Allied shipping, the basin played a key role during the First and Second World Wars. The basin was used as an assembly point for Atlantic-convoys bound for Europe, given the size of the Port of Halifax and its proximity to Europe as opposed to other North American ports. With defences built just outside the one access point into the basin (a strait called The Narrows), it provided a safe place for the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy to assemble their convoys in relative safety consisting of hundreds of merchant ships, while torpedo nets kept German submarines at bay.

So how did 32 Volvos (some dispute that amount, but Bedford Institute of Oceanography confirms 32) end up in Nova Scotia at the bottom of the Bedford Basin? These Volvos seabeds did not actually come from the actual plant.

LCdr Leyte has confirmed 32 sunken volvos as well and it is his understanding that in the 1980s, a container ship did not have the “right papers” for an incoming shipment, so instead of returning them, “they dumped perfectly good Volvos in the middle of the Bedford Basin.” Hamilton, Ontario’s McNally Construction Inc. won the dredging bid and assembled the necessary equipment at Pier 9. This phase of work was scheduled to begin in January 2019.

All 32 of the Volvos are now marked so that when they drop their anchors, ships do not hook into one.

Unfortunately, in September 1998, Volvo shut down the plant in Halifax, ending 225 jobs, blaming globalization reasons and NAFTA.

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Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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  1. Pingback: Volvos in the Bedford Basin – History of Bedford Nova Scotia

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