Man in vintage diving gear

Walking Under Water

Hard hat diving in and around Vancouver

A micro-exhibition

Explore the world of hard hat diving in Vancouver in the late 1890s and early 1900s. Hard hat diving is the first form of commercial diving. It is named for the style of helmet that was developed for diving in the 1800s.

Hard hat divers played an important role in building Vancouver into the city it is today. Diving was dangerous work that required a lot of skill. Hard hat divers had to be skilled at not only walking under water, they also had to be able to do all sorts of work that might otherwise be done by a specialized tradesperson.

They helped build bridges, dams and docks. They fixed the pipes that supplied residents with drinking water. They were involved with search and rescue efforts. They helped to survey and salvage equipment and objects from shipwrecks.

At Walking Under the Water, you’ll learn the story of some of the divers who laboured under the surface of the ocean. You’ll also learn about the first female hard hat diver in the Pacific.

Take a selfie!

Walking Under Water includes a display of heritage diving gear, including a full hard hat diving suit and a real hard hat helmet. You can snap a selfie with the full diver. You can try on the hard hat diving helmet and pose for a picture.

Walking Under Water also features archival photographs from the City of Vancouver Archives and the VMM Archives. The diving equipment on display includes items from the VMM Collections and pieces local Vancouver group the Heritage Hard Hat Divers have graciously loaned to the museum.

Contact us

(604) 257-8300



Monday - Sunday
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Statutory Holidays (excluding Christmas): 10:00 am to 5:00 pm


1905 Ogden Ave.
Vancouver, BC
V6J 1A3

CRA# 119261147 RR0001

Board of Trustees