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Film crew explores wrecks on Kootenay Lake

A film crew from Quebec is in Nelson this week, working on an episode of a documentary series called Secrets des profondeurs (Secrets of the Deep) for Unis TV.

“We’re here to do a few dives and tell the story of the area,” says director Éli Laliberté of PVP Media. “We’re trying not to just stick to Quebec but to tell the stories from different perspectives. We’ve been to the Maritimes, and now we’re on the west coast for the first time.”

Laliberté is working on the series with maritime historian Samuel Côté, who has spent his career finding shipwrecks and “telling the stories of the underwater world” and diver/underwater photographer Mario Cyr, who has worked for National Geographic, BBC, and the Discovery Channel, among others.

Laliberté says it was through Côté’s research that they became interested in Kootenay Lake, which is home to a number of shipwrecks. They contacted local divers John Pollack and Brian Nawidny, who pointed them to some sites.

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In particular, they will explore the spot where a series of coal cars fell off a barge being towed by the tug Valhalla in 1901. The results of their efforts this week will form an episode in the series, which will also look at the history of transportation on the lake.

“Kootenay Lake was the highway for passengers, goods, and minerals from mines in the area,” Laliberté says. “Every episode is focused on a mystery, either a shipwreck or a different story related to the underwater world that sheds light on a part of history.”

But isn’t it a bit cold to be diving right now?

“It’ll be crispy,” Laliberté laughs. “We didn’t pick the best moment in terms of temperature.” He says COVID derailed their original plans.

They will spend two days in the water, with a third day set aside as a back up. Laliberté anticipates it will be “intense” work with “full, interesting days.”

“We’re going fishing,” he says. “Every episode has an unknown part. But so far so good. We’ve been lucky and coming out with good stories.”

The episode is expected to air next spring. The series has already been airing and can be found at

Éli Laliberté. (Christian Lamontagne/PVP Media)
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