The C.G.S. Arctic – Images of a Pioneer Canadian Arctic Vessel From the Brabant Collection

by John M. MacFarlane 2016


The C.G.S. Arctic (Photo AB0027 from the Brabant collection. )

The vessel was originally built as the Gauss, for Antarctic service.

The Canadian Government Ship (C.G.S.) Arctic was a polar patrol vessel 165’ x 37’ x 20’ Wooden–hull. 762gt 762rt) She was built in 1901 as the Gauss at Kiel Germany by Howaldstwerke for the German Antarctic Expedition. A triple reciprocating 44nhp steam engine powered the vessel which was rigged as a barquentine.


The C.G.S. Arctic (Photo AB0193 from the Brabant collection. )

Inspector Moodie RNWMP was in command of the ship with J. E. Bernier functioning as Sailing Master taking the vessel north from Quebec City. The following year she returned to Newfoundland for work to be carried out on her. Canadian Government Ship commanded by Captain J.E. Bernier. She was on the Arctic patrol in the Eastern Arctic. She made her first Arctic voyage in 1906/1907 and the second 1908/1909.


The C.G.S. Arctic (Photo AB0194 from the Brabant collection. )

These photographs come from a personal collection assembled by Angus Brabant who was the Fur Commissioner of the Hudsons Bay Company. He apparently took a keen interest in the marine activities of the company. These images are loaned by his great grandson.


The C.G.S. Arctic (Photo AB0196 from the Brabant collection. )

In 1904 the vessel was sold to the Canadian Government Department of Fisheries & Marine and she was renamed as the Arctic.


C.G.S. Arctic (Photo AB0284 from the Brabant collection. )

About 1906 she had an opportunity to transit the Northwest Passage which, if successful, would have been the first transit in history. Bernier’s orders were to patrol the Arctic and return to Montreal. In August he was at the western entrance of M’Clure Strait. He entered through Lancaster Sound and Viscount Melville Sound discovering that there were exceptional ice conditions with M'Clure Strait was nearly completely free of ice. At the northwestern end of Banks Island at Cape Prince Alfred he could have turned south towards the Mackenzie River and slipped out through the open water along the coast of Alaska. Instead he followed his orders which dictated that he turn back and return to the Atlantic coast. Pressing on would have been risky and with no radio communications he did the safe thing. Later Amundsen became the first to transit the Passage through a different route and under more trying conditions.

Later she was re–rigged to facilitate her work in the Eastern Arctic. She was broken up in 1926.

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2016) C.G.S. Arctic – Images of a Pioneer Canadian Arctic Vessel From the Brabant Collection. 2016.


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