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 participate in an on–going discussion 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 2,500 members) that shares photographs, information and first–hand knowledge. Check it out and join up.

Recent Featured Articles:

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.


CSS Wm. J. Stewart CSS William J. Stewart

21/11/2016 Contributor Mike Ball was a Marine Engineer who served in the CSS William J. Stewart. He shares some images of the ship that he took while he was serving showing just how beautiful she was when she was functioning as a hydrographic survey vessel.


New Book – Canada’s Admirals and Commodores Canadas Admirals and Commodores

19/11/2016 The Maritime Museum in Victoria has published the 3rd Edition of Canada’s Admirals and Commodores (it has been over 20 years since the last edition) with many updates and additions. It can be ordered directly from the Museum call direct 250-385-4222 (ext 102) to place your order. Its $30 plus postage.


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.


Classic Staysail Schooner Black Eyes Black Eyes

28/10/2016 Contributor Captain Tony Toxopeus, who is now a Marine Surveyor, shares images of the Black Eyes a staysail schooner. Formerly used for dive charter operations she is now laid up at anchor off Bowen Island. She has an interesting link to the popular music recording industry.


Kivi: A Classic Wooden Double–ended Troller Kivi

25/10/2016 When you dine in an upscale restaurant at Granville Island an unusual decoration graces the ceiling. Its the little wooden double-ended troller Kivi. Contributor Dan Rubin tells a little of the history of this Allen Farrell designed and built vessel.


Vancouver’s Fleet of Former US Navy APc Vessels Former APc

24/10/2016 Contributor George Duddy has revised and updated his extensive list of Canadian vessels that were formerly serving in the US Navy. Following the war, the US Navy disposed of the small coastal transports. Eleven of these were eventually registered in Vancouver as Canadian vessels.


Princess Maquinna’s Binnacle Princess Maquinna

23/11/2016 Contributor Frank Statham, a retired Canadian Coast Guard radio technician, photographed Princess Maquinna’s binnacle and shared the image with me. Together we put a short article on this fragment of a famous west coast icon now long gone. Does any reader know where the binnacle is now?


August Moon – a Classic British Columbia Schooner August Moon

22/10/2016 Chad Giesbrecht and Dan Rubin share images and history of the schooner August Moon, a classic wooden British Columbia vessel built by the late Allen Farrell. Her trademark red sails allow her to be picked out in the Gulf Islands from a distance. An encounter with her owners (past and present) is a pleasure as is the workmanship in the vessel.


New Arctic Book Just Published Arctic Cargo

21/10/2016 "Arctic Cargo: a History of Marine Transportation in Canada’s North" (2016) Christopher Wright Digby NS. (571 pages paper bound) C$44.95 ISBN 978–0–9952525–0–9. (Follow this link to see the details) Christopher Wright has created a reference compilation combining detailed chapters with shorter essays supported by extensive reference material spanning more than 400 years of transportation history in Canada’ Arctic. The Arctic is a neglected topic for Canada, in many ways. It is isolated geographically, culturally, and economically.


Silver Fir: Forestry Patrol Vessel and Workboat Silver Fir

20/10/2016 Old patrol vessels of the British Columbia Forest Service are very popular with marine buffs. Their beautiful lines and fine workmanship have made them popular preservation vessels. The Silver Fir, resident at Mudge Island BC, is one of them. Contributor Chad Giesbrecht shares images of his vessel which is normally seen at vessel rendezvous.


Dawe Shipyards Ltd. and It’s Predecessors Dawe Shupyard

16/10/2016 Contributor Bruce Dawe teams up to share the story of a family enterprise that evolved into several well–known ship building and ship repair companies.


Fisheries Reserve Vessels Still Afloat in 2016Fisheries Reserve Vessels Still Afloat

15/10/2016 There are still a number of vessels still afloat that served in the RCN during the Second World War, but they are rapidly disappearing.


Captain Roland Joel Roberts Captain Roland Joel Roberts

06/10/2016 Contributor Caroline Gilbert writes about British Columbia mariner Captain Roland Joel Roberts who served in the merchant service, wartime service in the navy and as a commercial fisherman.


Trotman Anchor Trotman Manchor

30/09/2016 Contributor Christoper J. Cole found this monument in Ucluelet BC to the Trotman pattern anchor recovered from a deep water site in the Pacific Ocean.


McLure and Little Fort Reaction Ferries McLure Reaction Ferry

21/09/2016 Contributor Richard Howie shares images of the freshwater river reaction ferries operated by the British Columbia Government across the Thompson River.


HMCS Stettler: a snapshot of an operational history HMCS Stettler

07/09/2016 HMCS Stettler was a Frigate of the RCN built for the the Second World War. She served in the North Atlantic against U–boats until the end of the War. Afterwards, she was transferred to the Pacific Coast. With the advent of the Cold War she was re–commissioned. Besides carrying out patrol duties she served as a training platform for naval personnel.


HMCS Sans Peur: Second World War Armed Yacht HMCS Sans Peur

28/09/2016 HMCS Sans Peur was a British–built luxury yacht that was commissioned into the RCN in the early days of the Second World War. Based in Esquimalt she carried out patrol and training duties. She was transferred to the East Coast toward the end of the War and passed back into civilian service still afloat as late as 1975, and possibly later, in Japan.


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)

01/06/2016 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. In 1994 the second edition of Canada’s Admirals and Commodores was published (ISBN #0–09693001–2–3). Since that time we have been maintaining updates to the entries found in that publication as well as tracking names of all subsequent appointments.


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: October 14th, 2016

Databases have been updated and are now holding 48,650 vessel histories (with 3668 images) and 57,353 mariner biographies (with 3268 images).


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