John Date

Introduction

John Date was the only helmet manufacturer in Canada. He was based in Montreal in 1853 although no one is sure of the date he first started to manufacture Diving Helmets. The company was a skilled maker of copper and brass parts and they had a brass foundry. It is therefore perhaps not surprising he turned his skill to the manufacture of diving helmets and as early as 1876 his diving equipment won awards in the United States. The helmets of the early design were similar to the Augustus Siebe helmets having a wide corselet design although the bonnets were not so high. Also in common was the neck ring design which was non-recessed. Little more is known of this manufacturer but in common with other early makers the quality of workmanship was of the highest standard.

A typically early John Date helmet from the late 19 th century with a hinged faceplate and oval styles windows. These were similar to the style fitted to Augustus Siebe’s
helmets and were later superseded by the later design of circular windows. The brales on this helmet are reinforced and raised similar to the early CE Heinke helmets.
 
A typically early John Date helmet from the late 19 th century with a hinged faceplate and oval styles windows. These were similar to the style fitted to Augustus Siebe’s
helmets and were later superseded by the later design of circular windows. The brales on this helmet are reinforced and raised similar to the early CE Heinke helmets.
 
An early style, possibly the second style of helmet with non-recessed neck rings and a hinged front window. The exhaust has change and the angle and style of the outlet elbow has become higher and shorter.
The brales are no longer reinforced and are similar to the Morse style. A telephone elbow has been added at a later date. At this stage in the Company’s history they did not use makers name tags.

Photos courtesy of Leon Lyons
 
A very early non-recessed helmet also with a hinged front window. This helmet is from the late 19th century.
This helmet has flat style brales so it is not clear if this style is earlier than the previous helmet.
 
The rear view shows the second style of exhaust valve and the inlet gooseneck with non-return valve. The asset plate shows
it was owned at one time by the Shawinigan Engineering Company who are owned by the Water and Power Company.
The Company was set up in 1898 so it is possible the helmet was pre-owned for part of its life prior to this date.

Photos courtesy of the Clint Green collection
 

A more recent 3 light 12 bolt helmet with hinged front port. The banana style exhaust showing influence of the American Mark V design whilst the locking device shows similarities with the Italian style.
This helmet bears the serial number on both top and bottom neck rings. The serial number dates the helmet to 1947 and records show the helmet was ordered by and supplied to The Shawinigan Water & Power Company in 1947.
Established in 1898 The Shawinigan Water & Power Company was one of the largest privately owned hydroelectric companies in Canada and operated until 1963 when it became part of the Hydro-Quebec Company.
The company developed 8 power stations utilising the water force of the Saint Maurice River and in turn this spawned a vibrant industrial region specialising in pulp, aluminium and chemicals.
 

A three light 12 bolt helmet by John Date. Notice that this hat also has a banana exhaust.
 

Front view of a 3 port helmet with a screw in faceplate, centre picture shows the banana exhaust tube and right hand picture sows the inlet elbow with non-return valve and telephone gooseneck.
 
Side views shows 2 lashing eyes. A close up view of the makers plate.

Photos courtesy of Patrick Scalli, son of Frank Scalli diving Pioneer.

Frank Scalli was one of the divers on the first expedition to the luxury cruise liner Andrea Dorea. Born in 1931 Frank became interested in SCUBA diving in 1953 when he left the Army.
He was a Water Safety Instructor and later in the 1950s became a director of PADI, NOGI and NAUI.
In 1961 he joined US DIVERS and became National Sales Manager in 1969. During his life he won many awards, accolades and honours. He died in 2004.
 

A John Date 4 light helmet in fantastic condition.