Canadian Splash: Beneath the Waves in Saskatchewan’s Diefenbaker Lake

Scuba Diving a Prairie Lake Named After a Canadian Prime Minister

Scuba diving in Canada’s flattest province, you might wonder? It certainly can be done.

Saskatchewan may be coined as the prairie wheat-growing province, but there are more than puddles to be explored in this landlocked place.
 

Diefenbaker Dam and Lake

Lake Diefenbaker is a 225 kilometer (140 mile) long reservoir and bifurcation lake. It was formed by the construction of the Gardiner Dam and the Qu’Appelle River Dam across the Qu’Appelle Rivers from 1959 to 1967. The lake is named after John G. Diefenbaker, one of Canada’s former prime ministers.

Though not a naturally occurring lake, Diefenbaker is currently the largest body of water in southern Saskatchewan. Its shoreline contours approximately 800 kilometers (500 miles). On average, the lake depth is 66 meters (217 feet), however water levels fluctuate annually by 3-9 meters (9-27 feet).

Scuba Diving Diefenbaker

For scuba diving, Lake Diefenbaker is a top choice among provincial divers living between Regina and Saskatoon. The visibility is not too shabby and the lake is home to 26 native and stocked fish species. Some of these include burbot, walleye, pike, whitefish, trout, perch, sucker and salmon.

The Saskatchewan Underwater Council (which we had the incredible opportunity of meeting a few leading members) and associated dive clubs have also sunk small powerboats and navigation lines at one of the main training sites for divers to follow.

The Saskatchewan Underwater Council Members And Dive Buddies 4 Life Gettting Ready To Enkoy Scuba Diving In Saskatchewan, Canadian Splash
 

Below are two of Lake Diefenbaker’s main shore diving sites:

Greg and Mel’s Beach (Conquest Beach)

Greg and Mel’s Beach, also known as Conquest Beach, is a nice coarse sand beach with an easy gradual access to the water. The site is a great recreational site, but also appealing for experienced divers as it descends close to 29 meters (95 feet). If you really swim – you can also reach technical depth levels.

A Stickleback On The Bottom Of Lake Diefenbaker In Saskatchewan, Scuba Diving Canada

Within the lake, the bottom varies from coarse beach sand to finer sand peppered with weed vegetation. At depth, the bottom is merely fine sand. A short distance from shore there are lines running north to south at roughly 6 meters (20 feet) in depth depending on lake levels. Towards the north of the line, divers can find a hula hoop swim-through course. Heading south the line goes deep to a few small sunken boats with crayfish and minnows.

Greg And Mel's Beach Scuba Diving Site In Danielson Provincial Park, Saskatchewan, Canada

Where to Dive Greg and Mel’s Beach

GPS Coordinates: 51.2505, -106.8685
Address: Coteau Bay Point in Danielson Provincial Park, Cutbank, Saskatchewan
Entry is done at the beach. A dive flag should be towed or secured to the bottom to keep boats away.

 

The Dam Drift

The Gardiner Dam is the third largest embankment dam in Canada. The dam stretches almost 5 kilometers long (3.1 miles) and rises up 64 meters (209 feet) high.

The base of the dam (to the north) is the outflow of the dam’s power station. Here EXPERIENCED divers can suit up and ease into the current, enjoying a fast-moving drift dive amid rolling clay dunes. The depth of the Dam Drift is between 2-8 meters (6-26 feet), making it a great shallow second dive.

Important Information: Because of changes at the power stations, water levels in the creek can vary as much as 1 meters (5 feet) in as little as ten minutes. This is important to keep in mind when entering, exiting and diving the water.

The Gardiner Dam At The Base Of Lake Diefenbaker In Saskatchewan, Canada Diving

Aside from the hard and soft clay formations that make up the bottom composition, divers can observe long strands of aquatic green plants, snails and the occasional burbot sheltered in a clay corner away from the current. Visibility at this site greatly depends on the time of year and is typically 3 meters (10 feet) in the summer months and 6-8 meters (20-25 feet) in the fall and winter.

After the short drift, if the exit is timed correctly (when the bottom profile dips and current breaks), divers can swim to the entry side of the embankment and float along the creek’s back eddies returning them to or near the starting point of the dive.

The Dam Drift Diving Saskatchewan Diving Site, Canada

Where to Dive The Dam Drift

GPS Coordinates: 51.27530, -106.87619
Address: Coteau Creek Hydroelectric Station, Outlook, Saskatchewan, S0L 2N0
Drive and park down near the water. To enter the drift swim across to the island chunks in the middle of the river.

Small White Aquatic Flower With An Air Bubble In The Petals At The Base Of The Diefenbaker Dam In Saskatchewan, Scuba Canada
 

Recapping Our Dives at Lake Diefenbaker

From the rustic yellow wheat fields to its flat-as-a-pancake topography, Saskatchewan is a province surrounded by Manitoba to the east, Alberta to the west, the USA from below and the North-West Territories from above. As such, the ocean and the Great Lakes are a long way from this landlocked domain.

Although diving in Saskatchewan is not jaw-droppingly spectacular, getting wet can be done in some of the province’s many lakes. Further to getting wet, if aquatic life is what you seek, timing is everything. The fish life and visibility in Saskatchewan is at its best in the spring and autumn seasons – or so I’ve been told.

Crayfish Wedged Between A Clam Shell In The Mud Of Lake Diefenbaker, Saskatchewan, Canada Scuba Diving

Practical Scuba Diver Information:

Have you had the opportunity to scuba dive any of Canada’s prairie provinces? If so, what are some of your favourite dive sites and dive clubs?

Writers Note: A special thank you goes out to Brad and Tracy of the Saskatchewan Underwater Council for meeting and giving us the grand diving tour of Lake Diefenbaker. Without their knowledge and expertise of the area, this post would not have been possible.

Additionally, this post may contain affiliate links. We will make a small commission if you make a purchase through one of these links, at no extra cost to you. See full disclosure and disclaimer policy here.

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Scuba Diving Diefenbaker Lake In Saskatchewan, Canada Diving

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