The empty Pipe Shop building of the North Vancouver shipyards adjacent to the soon-opening Tap and Barrel restaurant has potential to be an important part of Lower Lonsdale’s development. Currently the refurbished building sits empty and is used only during the Friday Night Markets. However, if the North Vancouver Museum and Archives has its way, that will change in two years. The NVMA met in the building on Wednesday evening, the very place they wish to call home in the near future. On this evening, the group invited as a speaker North Vancouver’s own Phil Nuytten.

Phil Nuytten is truly a living legend in the field of undersea exploration. He has been inducted into multiple Halls of Fame, the recipient of the Jules Verne Award and a member of The Order of British Columbia. Nuytten’s company Nuytco Research Ltd is operated right here in Lower Lonsdale situated at 216 East Esplanade. At this nondescript location he has produced one-person submersibles, Exosuits for diving and countless other diving components.

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Since the late 1950’s Nuytten has been involved in diving, he opened the first dive shop in Western Canada at age 15, and became a commercial diver soon after. In 1965 he founded Can-Dive Services and eventually invented and perfected Atmospheric Diving Suits that allowed for working dives of over 2,000 feet. His creations have been used by, among others; NASA, the United States Navy and film-maker, James Cameron.

On this night, the extremely affable Nuytten discussed the highlights of his illustrious career for 30 enthralled onlookers. Over the years he has personally collected and stored hundreds of marine artifacts originally in hopes of constructing his own museum. If the NVMA succeeds, he is willing to display his collection at the new museum. This brings us back to the Pipe Shop issue.

The museum under the direction of fund raising Campaign Chair, Don Evans requires the securing of $5,000,000 by the end of this year for their plans to come to fruition. Currently housed at the old and cramped Presentation House at Third St. and Chesterfield, the Pipe Shop Building would be a vast improvement. Additionally, the City of North Vancouver has made a commitment to match every dollar raised by the NVMA.

If successful, the public will be able to enjoy the new museum by 2017.  Not only will we be able to greater appreciate and learn from the rich history of North Vancouver but also from one of its greatest exports, Phil Nuytten.


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