Patricia Lake Jasper

Today’s beauty of Patricia Lake hides a wonderful war story.

Jasper Tramway View of Jasper

Lakes surround Jasper, Patricia and Pyramid Lakes appear on the left of the photo

The delightful arrow shaped town of Jasper is surrounded by glacial lakes. A meandering road through the rolling hills leads to two of the prettiest – Patricia and Pyramid Lakes. With a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, surrounded by thickets of Douglas fir and with crystal clear waters, today the two lakes make for idyllic picnic locations with panoramic vistas but during World War II, Patricia Lake was the location for a highly secret project.

Patricia Lake Jasper Clear Water Fish

Water is crystal clear

With British ships being sunk at an alarming rate by German submarines in the Atlantic, an eccentric scientist named Pyke convinced authorities that he could make attack-resistant ships from ice. A hole in an ice ship from a missile could be easily repaired by adding more water and quickly freezing it. As mad as it sounds, the idea of an unsinkable battleship developed enough with Churchill’s approval for a prototype aircraft carrier to be built on Patricia Lake under the name Project Habakkuk.  A 1:50 model ship was constructed with a mix of water and sawdust (called pykrete).

Patricia Lake Ice Ship Habakkuk

Underwater remains of Project Habakkuk, courtesy of Parks Canada

So solid was the pykrete ship that one story goes that in a demonstration of its solid base that a bullet fired into it rebounded almost striking the US Fleet Admiral. However practicalities sunk the project with lots of wood being required for each ship, costs being much greater than a conventional ship and the war developing to a point where the Allies were reaching a point of supremacy.

Enthusiastic divers can brave the icy waters and dive the remaining refrigeration parts of Project Habakkuk along with an underwater commemorative marker – the ship taking most of a following summer to finally sink.

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Welcome to Travel Wonders
My name is Mark and I’m a keen traveller. In fact, over the last 25 years, I’ve travelled to every continent and over 80 countries. This blog is about the most memorable destinations – the places I regard as the travel wonders of the world. I’m also a keen photographer, and have taken nearly all the photos you’ll see. During my travels, I’ve met some incredible people, seen inspiring places, viewed extraordinary wildlife and scenery and had some amazing experiences, and I’m writing these stories not only to entertain but primarily to inspire others to discover their own travel wonders.
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