The Xihuw (pronounced KEYquot) artificial reef is a decommissioned Boeing 737-200 airframe that was donated by Qwest Airparts of Memphis, Tennessee, through the efforts of Air Canada.
How does a plane became an artificial reef? The first steps began with a phone call from Fraser MacLean of Air Canada in November 2002. The company had a Boeing 737 that was slated to be decommissioned. Fraser had seen the coverage of the HMCS Cape Breton’s sinking, and thought the ARSBC might be interested in acquiring the Boeing 737 for its second reef. (Had we known the roller coaster ride that would ensue we may not have said yes so eagerly!)
The process of finding an underwater home for the aircraft proved a turbulent one, with sites considered from Vancouver to Sechelt to Courtenay/Comox and Victoria. Southern Vancouver island became her final home thanks to the community support garnered by Peter Luckham of 49th Parallel Diving. On Saturday January 14, 2006, the plane was mounted on 11-foot-high support stands and lowered by crane into the waters of Georgia Strait off Chemainus.
Xihuw, by the way, is the Hul'qumi'num word for the red sea urchins that used to live in abundance in these waters but whose population has dwindled, sadly, due to pollution and over-fishing.