Three fathoms is a nautical measurement of depth that’s equal to approximately six feet — it’s also the name of a store right here in Elmwood.
Established in 1970, 3 Fathoms was aptly named to resonate with those in the scuba world, as well to signify the three men who started the company. In 1980, Ian Sutherland bought the shop and has been running the show ever since. Ian has been diving for 33 years and, with thousands of dives under his belt, he jokes that half his life has been spent under water.
The store is small but offers so much. The first thing you’ll notice is the countertop made out to look like a tiki hut. Very fitting, considering all the exotic locations scuba divers visit. There’s beautiful art on the wall taken by one of the staff members on one of his dives. There’s all sorts of equipment that this sheltered Winnipegger has seen only in the movies.
Aside from its retail operation, 3 Fathoms also offers classes. Children can get involved as young as eight years old. Classes are held in a pool where they get all geared up and learn what it is to scuba dive and how to properly use the specialized equipment. Sutherland shows a deep pride when speaking about the kids’ programs. He told me that the classes are about much more than just diving, and that 3 Fathoms has a motto: "take nothing, leave only bubbles."
There’s an emphasis on taking care of our planet, and being kind to the environment that Sutherland hopes will transfer to everyday life for these kids.
"Our children are our future; very simple," he says.
"We need to teach them young and when they’re older and running things in the workforce they’ll have the earth’s best interest at heart."
Sutherland also told me of the positive effect the classes can have on a child’s self esteem.
He has been told by parents that they’ve seen a change in their children since taking part in the course. Maybe that’s because they suddenly have this unique ability and knowledge that most others don’t have.
Ian has also been raising money for Cancer Care Manitoba through 3 Fathoms. On April 6 and 7 of this year 3 Fathoms there will hold a 24-hour diving session at Elmwood Kildonans pool.
Divers have already started collecting pledges and the public is invited out to watch and to throw money in the pool. There will also be a silent auction to raise funds and the front window of the store is riddled with donated prizes.
Sutherland says that, while the fundraiser is a lot of work, "every single penny we collect goes to cancer" so in the end it’s all worth it.
If you want to learn more, check out www.3fathoms.com or visit the store at 163 Henderson Hwy.
Melissa Bigras is a community correspondent for Elmwood. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.