SS Beaver Steamship History
One hundred and seventy years have come and gone since the SS Beaver sailed for Vancouver from London England in the year 1835. She was the first steamship commissioned by the Hudsons Bay Company to replace their outdated sailing fleet. It was Sir George Simpson, Governor of the Northern Division of The Honourable Company for over 40 years, who was responsible for this decision.
The Beaver played a major role in the history of British Columbia. Although
she served first as a trading and policing ship for the HBC she was much more than that. She carried James Douglas to Sitka, Alaska to discuss trade and boundaries with the Russian Governor of Alaska, bore Sir George Simpson on many fact finding missions along the coast, and participated in the discovery of coal at Fort Rupert and the founding of Fort Victoria. She carried the official party to Fort Langley for the proclamation of the Colony of British Columbia. She was then loaned to the United States to aid in their local Indian Wars. Upon her return, she would help deliver Justice in the Colony, when BC' s first murder trials were held upon her deck.
In 1862 she was commissioned as Her Majesty's Hired Surveying Vessel
SS BEAVER , and under the command of of Captain Daniel Pender would continue the work of charting the coast of BC, a job commenced by Captain George Vancouver in 1792. Over 1000 Miles of BC coastline were charted by her over the next seven years.
By 1874, the sad little paddle wheeler was growing old and her final years
were spent in commercial trade as a renowned freighter/tugboat. She was sold,
resold, abused and let go, until finally on a stormy, foggy night in July 1888, the
SS Beaver ran aground at Prospect Point off Stanley Park Vancouver.
Twenty four books have been written about the SS BEAVER and more information can be found in local libraries. Artifacts from this pioneer steamer
including one of her boilers can be found at the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
To give the BEAVER 's history and importance in proper perspective, I quote
the author of SS. Beaver, the ship that saved the West, D. Pethick," It was
much more than an interesting ship, it helped to lay the foundation of BC,
and hence Canada, and as such it deserves the attention of all who today inhabit them .."
However, the story does not end here, Incredibly, in 1966 the Royal Canadian Navy requisitioned Hull # 216, and designed and built a replica of the SS BEAVER as she was during those days gone by. This project was the Navy's contribution to the celebration of the Colonial Union Centennial Celebrations of Vancouver Island and the colony on mainland British Columbia joining.
The SS. Beaver carried political leaders and citizens to the original Beavers ports of call up and down the coast and the Gulf of Alaska. Under the command of Lt Sturgess and McIlwaine, as in her parents tradition, she began a period of being bought and sold. Fort Langley was next in line to own her, then Embyn Enterprises, and later Georgia Towing. Her next owner, Colleen Whitney, had her refit with more creature comforts, and operated a successful charter business with Captain Anchaeus at the helm.
1986 found her being sold once again and refit for the glorious days of Expo
86 when she carried celebrities and dignitaries to various functions of the
celebration. In 1995 she was sold and the owners brought her to Victoria and
operated successfully for five years. In 2001 she was laid up and was dormant for 3 years until 2004. From then until now the SS Beaver has been refitted once again to take the run up to the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010.
Current spending has reached $1,000,000 with her bottom being re certified
and her upper works having undergone major renovations for the cruises
to come. As our latest prospective passengers, the owners, managers and crew of the SS Beaver welcome you aboard and hope your journey with us adds to the our ships already long, exciting and varied story.