We are a group of volunteers producing this nautical heritage site with information on Canada’s Pacific nautical history and heritage and other topics of general maritime interest. Click the links on the left side of the page to see the archived articles.

Those wishing to actively participate in an on–going discussion and Group investigation of British Columbia’s Nautical History should consider joining the British Columbia Nautical History Facebook group. This is a friendly and very active on–line discussion group (currently 2,700 members) that shares photographs, information and first–hand knowledge. Check it out and join up.

Recent Featured Articles:

The Log Barge Island Titan Island Titan

24/02/2017 Contributor Cliff Craig tells about working on and with the log barge Island Titan in Nootka Sound. The author worked as an entrepreneur in a wide range of marine occupations during a long and interesting career. The big log barge mysteriously disappeared shortly before she was going to be transferred to a new owner.

Vessels Owned by the Hillier Family Hillier Family Vessels

18/02/2017 Contributor Brent Sohier shares a personal story of fishing vessels owned by members of the Hillier Family including the Manhattan II, the Manhattan No. 1 and the Hillier Queen.

The Search for British Columbia's Oldest Floating Heritage Search for British Columbia's Oldest Floating Heritage

14/02/2017 The search for the oldest vessel afloat in British Columbia is a difficult and complicated subject. The list is constantly shifting as vessels disappear and as the wrangle over defining terms such as afloat, or oldest vessel creates debate and disagreement. I would argue that just recently shifting an ancient vessel into BC waters does not create a new entry to the claimant list but that is only an opinion. Here is my attempt to establish the list of oldest vessels for consideration.

Some Memories of Captain Bob LewisCaptain Bob Lewis

12/02/2017 While researching his family history, contributor John Lewis captured family memories of their relative, Captain Bob Lewis, a Quadra Island and Campbell River mariner. He was well known in his role as a Fisheries Officer but had strong links to the Quathiaski Store and the Beehive Cafe.

Vessels Built by Waterway Houseboat Builders Inc. Waterway Houseboat Builders Inc.

09/02/2017 A nominal list of vessels built by Waterway Houseboat Builders Inc. from the vessel database of The Nauticapedia.

Removing Coastal Defences in Seymour Narrows BC Coast Defences

08/02/2017 In the early days of the First World War there was near hysterical fear of an imminent attack by a German Navy raider that was operating in the North Pacific Ocean. Coal supplies at Nanaimo and the naval base at Esquimalt were possible targets, as well as the cities of Vancouver and Victoria. The navy put guns ashore in Seymour Narrows to protect against attack from Johnstone Strait.

Some Vessels Built by James Bissett Bissett Vessels

05/02/2017 James Bissett and A. Gilstein built a number of vessels, some of which are still afloat. Contributor Garth Johnson shares images of a large and a small vessel built by them, and a recollection of happy members of his friendship with Jim Bissett.

A Serious Incident For The FPC Galiano FPC Galiano Incident

01/02/2017 We all know about the loss of HMCS Galiano at the end the First World War – lost to the wild weather of the Pacific coast. But here are two pictures which show her fast aground – at Cobourg Spit (aka Royal Roads). Contributor Christopher J. Cole shares the results of his research into the incident.

The Story of the Davis Raft Davis Rafts

28/01/2017 The iconic Davis Raft was a thing of beauty to loggers, tugboat crews and mill owners. They were also engineering marvels. Contributor Garry Holland sketches out the history of the way raw logs were once commonly transported before the advent of the self–loading / unloading log barge.

The Schooner Lorna D. Lorna D

24/01/2017 Contributor Dennis Minaker tells about the construction of the Schooner Lorna D. at Birds Eye Cove. This beautiful schooner went on to sail to Tahiti and returned to Victoria during the Second World War. She became the live–aboard home of her owners for many years afterwards.

The Tragic Meteor Fire at Sea The Meteor Fire

19/01/2017 Contributor Captain Tony Toxopeus reminds us of a tragic fire at sea which swept the Norwegian cruise liner Meteor during the early morning hours of 22 May 1971, claiming the lives of 32 crew members.

Vice–Admiralty Court In Victoria BC Vice-Admiralty Court in Victoria BC

17/01/2017 The Vice–Admiralty Court in Victoria BC, was established during imperial colonial days, and operated under the authority of three Vice–Admirals of Vancouver Island.

The Brico No. 16: Fishboat, Yacht, Workboat Brico 16

14/01/2017 Contributor William Heavenor’s family owned and worked on the Brico No. 16. Read about how they went about modifying her mostly between 1977 and 1980. It was at the beginning of her conversion from fishing service to work boat. She had her power plant changed in 1979 – the gas engine was retired and a Chrysler–Nissan diesel plant was installed.

Log Dump Disaster Log Dump Disaster

01/07/2017 On July 08, 2005 contributor Allan Crook was serving in the tug Ocean Wrestler towing the log barge Ocean Oregon. He recently came across all of his photos of the Ocean Wrestler dumping her load and crane into the river at the Timberland log dump area. The photos run from about 30 seconds into the process or so after she rolled over and dumped right up to the time the next day when they secured the crane so it would not fall completely into the river.

Western Canada’s Maritime War Dividend – The Military Vessels Converted for Civilian Use Converted Military Vessels

04/01/2017 Contributor George Duddy has substantially and extensively updated and re–written an earlier article by the late John Henderson on Converted Military Vessels. An influx of high quality military surplus vessels propelled the towing and transportation industry, and the forest and fishing industries and other commerce to a level that might not otherwise have been possible in British Columbia. Some of the vessels became private yachts. The vessels came mainly from the UK and USA with a few provided by the Canadian forces after the Second World War. Their purchase at low cost was indeed a small war dividend to the economy of a country that had contributed much in terms of lives and cost to war effort.

Northern Light Northern Light

01/01/2017 For many years the Northern Light was a fixture on the waterfront in Baynes Sound, slowly decaying at anchor. Another ‘failed dream’ she represents generations of similarly fascinating vessels that populate anchorages on the east coast of Vancouver Island. These vessels are a danger to the environment and a visual blight, in spite of their historic origins.

Noble Lady Noble Lady

05/12/2016 Contributor Caroline Gilbert shares her investigations into an ex–Fairmile veteran of the Second World War which can be seen at Campbell River BC.

The Nauticapedia List of British Columbia’s Floating Heritage (In four volumes) Floating Heritage

01/12/2016 Here is a detailed history of the 5,500 oldest vessels still afloat in British Columbia. There is no other printed source for this information available without owning a library of 800 reference books! The names of more than 15,000 current and past owners of vessels are included.

A Seagoing Officers Chart Book 1799 Chart Book

01/12/2016 Captain James Hepburn McFarland RN was one of my ancestors. As a watchkeeper in a sailing man–of–war he was required to supply his own charts for navigation. He purchased a collection of 46 charts which were bound into hard covers. The book was given to me in 1965 and I am sharing images of it for map and chart enthusiasts. One of the charts isa hand drawn contemporaneous copy of a sea chart of the mouth of the River Plate by the Malaspina Expedition which he drew (perhaps after an encounter with the expedition leaders).

Captain James Hepburn MacFarlane RN Captain James Hepburn MacFarlane RN

01/12/2016 My ancestor, Captain James Hepburn MacFarlane RN, had a long and illustrious career, particularly through the Napoleonic Wars. As the First Lieutenant in HMS Lancaster he led a particularly difficult small boat action in the Indian Ocean which led to the capture of a ship which became HMS Penguin.

The Challenge of Crossing the Nitinat Bar on the West Coast of Vancouver Island Crossing Nitinat Bar

29/11/2016 It is difficult to understand now how a tug skipper would have the courage to cross waters boiling like this obviously in shallow water. Perhaps it was one lucky accident that brought the skipper to understand that under special conditions he could navigate his vessel through these troubled waters. Captain George A. MacFarlane was the skipper of the Solander and the Nitinat Chief, two vessels in which he perfected the crossing of the Nitinat Bar on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

Nitinat Chief Nitinat Chief

28/11/2016 The Nitinat Chief was an iconic powerful tug whose first Master, Captain George A. MacFarlane, brought it fame for his ability to tow over the Nitinat Bar on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

Life in a Float Home at Iona Jetty Float Home Life

23/11/2016 Contributor Terry Slack spent his childhood and much of his adult life on the water at the mouth of the Fraser River. His descriptions of these times are a vivid description of the real ‘spirit of place’ that makes the BC coast special. It must have been a glorious time to be a kid growing up there.

Robert Critchley: Historian and Collector Robert Critchley

15/11/2016 Robert Critchley has been collecting everything related to nautical heritage since he was a small boy. He is an example of the power that one person can express when they are passionately motivated. His holdings would rival a maritime museum and his knowledge is encyclopedic built on generations of experience on the coast. His ambitions continue to drive his efforts to preserve a rapidly disappearing heritage.

The ex–Mission Boat Tari Jacque Tari Jacqhe

12/11/2016 Contributor Robert Critchley shares the colourful history of the ex–medical and Columbia Coast Mission boat the Tari Jacque (the ex–Rendezvous). Critchley has recently preserved the boat as part of his collection of wooden–hulled boats which represent important themes in British Columbia nautical history.

Sooke Prince Sooke Prince

03/11/2016 Contributor Chad Giesbrecht shares images of the tug Sooke Prince which is based in Nanaimo Harbour. She has operated in Sooke Harbour, Nanaimo, and Prince Rupert for decades and is still going strong.

The Voyage of HMCS Prince Robert to Hong Kong 1941 Prince Robert 1941

01/11/2016 It was 75 years ago in October 1941 that HMCS Prince Robert sailed to Hong Kong carrying some of carrying the ill–fated Canadian troops to man the garrison at Hong Kong during the Second World War. She also accompanied the troopship Awatea which carried the main body of Canadian soldiers. The story of the voyage is almost unknown to history buffs and offers a fascinating look at an early operational wartime naval operation in the Pacific. It augments the tragic story of the soldiers who were all either killed or taken prisoner only to suffer terribly at the hands of their Japanese Army jailers.

Cherry II – Classic Forestry Patrol Vessel Cherry II

30/10/2016 Contributor Kathy Brereton shares images and history of her ex–British Columbia Forest Service patrol vessel Cherry II which, since its reirement, has been a power yacht that attracts a lot of positive attraction.

Featured Reference Tables:

The Nominal List of Members of the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve (RNCVR)

PosterNominal List of Members of the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve (RNCVR)

Did your grandfather serve in the Canadian Navy during the First World War? To participate in the First World War naval effort Canada formed the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve (RNCVR) which filled out the forces needed to make the navy operational. This is a nominal list of 7,500 of the more than 8,000 who served as members of this organization. There is no publicly available list of members and this represents the result of more than 25 years of research through publicly available sources to produce this one. Each entry is linked to the biography database so interested viewers can see what we have for each name.

Canada’s Naval Aviators

Canada’s Naval AviatorsRobbie Hughes

Few Canadians know about the Royal Canadian Navy’s contribution to Naval Aviation. More than 2,000 Canadians and some other naval aviators who served in Canada comprised this group. Originally published in print by John MacFarlane and Robbie Hughes, more than 25 years ago, this list is now revised and available to visitors to The Nauticapedia.

The Royal Canadian Naval Reserve University Naval Training Division (UNTD)

UNTD Nominal Lists

The definitive Nominal List for the University Naval Training Division (UNTD) of the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve contains the names of almost 7,000 former members and details of their service. Other lists detail the former members known to be deceased and a list of former members who achieved positions of note in their civilian or military careers.

Canada’s Admirals & Commodores

Canada’s Admirals & CommodoresBook Cover

Canada has a rich naval heritage which tends to have a low public profile. To the detriment of the Navy and our awareness of our national culture and history, Canada’s naval contribution in two World Wars, the Korean conflict and the many United Nations and NATO operations is hidden from public view. The great contribution of the navy is both interesting and important – but it is difficult for history lovers to access the information.

New Nauticapedia Book Just Published!

Volume Four in series

The Nauticapedia List of British Columbia's Floating Heritage Volume Four

Book — British Columbia's Floating Heritage
For more information …

Site News: Jan 29th, 2017

Databases have been updated and are now holding 49,478 vessel histories (with 3851 images) and 57,416 mariner biographies (with 3300 images).

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