This story that happened at Kingston Mills, is by Garth Scott a participant in Later Life Writing at Cross Road Church, Kingston, Ontario, 2016.
What do a mincemeat bucket and Jaques Cousteau have in common? A lot more than you might think.
I met Terry Walker in 1942 and we became lifelong friends. My friend could build cedar strip canoes, works of art. That someone can take some strips of wood and make from them a thing of beauty and utility never ceases to amaze me.
Terry always had a love for the water and for historical exploration and to satisfy these loves, in later life he became an accomplished SCUBA diver, exploring old wrecks in the water around Kingston.
Terry’s grandmother had a cottage at Kingston Mills and he and I spent many happy summer days on the water at the Mills, in a rowboat Terry had built. At the time we were both around twelve years old.
One day, when I called on my friend, he excitedly showed me his latest creation: a diving helmet. It would allow us to dive under the waters. Terry was certain there were historical artifacts present in the wreckage of an old boat whose timbers we could see from the surface of a small bay above the Kingston Mills locks.
Picture and inverted wooden bucket with a sort of rubber jacket securely affixed to it. The jacket was made from an automobile inner tube attached to the open end of the bucket. This went over your head with its rim resting on the shoulders. A drawstring threaded through holes in the jacket allowed it to be drawn tightly closed around the chest and arm openings. An eye hole cut in the bucket and covered with heavy celluloid and water proofed allowed underwater visibility. The air supply to the diver, who was to be me, consisted of a length of garden hose screwed onto a fitting on the top of the bucket. Air would be forced down the hose to the diver by a tire pump mounted in the boat on the surface. Thus outfitted I would be free to move around the bottom of the bay and explore. The simplicity of the diving helmet design was beautiful and I couldn’t wait to try it out. We agreed to begin our underwater explorations the following Saturday.
We didn’t reckon on Terry’s mother uncovering our plan and she, being unwise in scientific matters, chopped the diving helmet to splinters and burned it.
Just imagine if Thomas Edison would have had a mother like that.
Terry did eventually explore the wreck without the helmet, and artifacts were recovered.
This is the water above the locks at Kingston Mills. The two cottages are from the time that Garth’s story takes place. However there are more cottages at Kingston Mills and it is unknown if Terry’s grandmother owned one of these or another.