Honoring Vancouver PD Marien Unit

A few days ago, I received a notice that Facebook had created a video that I might like to see. They do this on occasion by pulling together random photos that one posts, to make an interesting presentation. This video’s theme was community. You might have received one as well.

Social media can be aggravating at times, but for me, the silver lining is the sense of friendship and community that it does bring. You can keep up with an old friend from elementary school, follow the happening’s of a favorite chef, or join one of the enthusiast groups that are becoming more prevalent. Those groups are like a forum within a forum, and one of the groups I follow is a vintage scuba group. It’s always interesting to see a rare regulator someone found in an attic or rare photos from the golden age of scuba.

Since Aquala has been building diving suits since 1950, there are a lot of photos that are being discovered and shared, so we’re always on the lookout. One of our most recent discoveries came through that vintage community and showed two divers suited up in the 1950s. Exactly when in the 1950s remained to be seen, however to the trained eye, it was clear the suits were Aquala built, Bel-Aquas. That would make the suits pre-1959.

There was something else in the photo, it was the seal of the Vancouver Police Department. Curious, I ran a few searches which led me to the Vancouver Police Museum. The Vancouver Police Museum led me their curator, Dr. Elizabeth Peterson, and with Dr. Peterson, I hit the jackpot.

The Vancouver Police Museum was established in 1986 in celebration of the department’s centennial anniversary. Located in the old Vancouver Coroner’s Court building, it’s considered one of the most interesting museums in the city. In addition to showcasing the police department’s history, they’ve also kept aspects of the coroner’s office in place. Want to see the old morgue and autopsy room? They can handle that.

Being here in the States, you always hear that Canadians are the nicest people, and Dr. Peterson perpetuates the stereotype. The original photo in question is originally from their archive, and like I said regarding the jackpot, there were more.

The photos were from a promotional piece to showcase the Marien Unit, especially their diving division. Vancouver PD was one of the earliest departments to adapt divers to their police forces, as these photos were from 1956. Only a few years after scuba was introduced to North America, making the Vancouver PD Dive unit, one of the first police dive units in the world.


Pictured is Officer Scott Meares (left) and Officer Jack Eaton (right) both who are conducting maintenance on the 'V.P.V. 45' Police Boat. Boat maintenance was done by the VPD Marien Unit until it was taken over by the Fire Department in the 1960s.

For you vintage gear junkies, there are also a few other interesting bits, aside from our suits.

The double-hose regulators pictured are early DiveAirs with Hope Page mouthpieces. The Dive/Air eventually became full-on Healthways, who sort of eventually became Scubapro. The fins are Cressi Rondines, which were imported by Healthways. It was common in those days for N. American companies to import gear from Italy and France. The rectangular thing strapped to the rebreather divers arm is a Bel-Aqua depth gauge.

Cool for me to see more than one Bel-Aqua piece of gear being used at a time.

So If you are ever in Vancouver, pay the Vancouver Police Museum a visit. Dr. Peterson and her team are doing an incredible job, and they’d like for you to drop in and say hello.

It’ll definitely be worth it.

We love our Worldwide community. Please join us and bring your friends.


Ty Alley

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