Ripple Rock

RIPPLE ROCK was a dangerous obstacle to navigation lying just below the surface of the water in SEYMOUR NARROWS, DISCOVERY PASSAGE, off the east coast of VANCOUVER ISLAND north of CAMPBELL RIVER. Dozens of vessels were wrecked on the rock and more than 100 people lost their lives. In the 1860s a plan was put forward to link Vancouver Island to the mainland at BUTE INLET, using the twin peaks of Ripple Rock as pilings for a bridge. This plan continued to percolate through the years, promoted by VICTORIA business interests, until finally the decision was taken to destroy the rock to improve safety for mariners. Two attempts were made, one in 1943 and another in 1945—during which 9 men died—but both times the work had to be abandoned. In the late 1950s the government tackled the project again. Tunnels were drilled in the ocean floor out to the rock, then up into its peaks. The rock was honeycombed with passages that were packed with 1,237 tonnes of explosives. At 9:33 a.m. on 5 Apr 1958, the largest non-nuclear peacetime explosion in history destroyed Ripple Rock.