Queen of the North – A Morning to Remember

by Lynn Salmon 2014

Queen of the North

Queen of the North (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection.)

The Queen of the North sank on a squally night March 22nd 2006 at 0140 (local time) 1 hour and 20 minutes after striking Juan Point on Gil Island in Wright Sound. She was on her regular run between Prince Rupert and Port Hardy having just commenced her southbound trip a few hours earlier.

The Queen of the North was the British Columbia Ferries flagship for the fleet. She was 125 metres in length and 8889gt. Built in 1969 in Bremerhaven Germany, she was originally named Stena Danica and plied the waters between Sweden and Denmark. In 1974 she was sold to British Columbia Ferries and began her service as the Queen of Surrey on the Nanaimo – Horseshoe Bay run. In 1980, with another change of name, she began the northern run out of Kelsey Bay, the terminal eventually moving to Port Hardy. Her passenger capacity was 650 though on that winter night she carried just 59 people and a crew of 42. Twenty two cars sat on the nearly empty car deck – a far cry from her summertime capacity of 157 vehicles.

Queen of the North

Two lifeboats from the Queen of the North at the Prince Rupert Coast Guard base. (Photo from the Lynn Salmon collection. )


Queen of the North

Recovered lifeboats full of discarded life jackets from the Queen of the North passengers. (Photo from the Lynn Salmon collection. )


Queen of the North

Lifeboat slung in davits on the Queen of the North in better days. (Photo from the Lynn Salmon collection. )


Queen of the North

View from enclosed visor viewing area looking south at the northern end of Grenville Channel in July 2004. (Photo from the Lynn Salmon collection. )


Queen of the North

Looking north from the Queen of the North while on a south bound transit – July 2004 in Grenville Channel (Photo from the Lynn Salmon collection. )


Queen of the North

Grenville Channel southbound July 2004. (Photo from the Lynn Salmon collection. )


Queen of the North

Early morning departure of the Queen of the North at Port Hardy – July 31st 2004. (Photo from the Lynn Salmon collection. )

With a Mayday relay broadcast in full swing, an amazing rescue operation ensued with the fishing vessel Lone Star turning in rough seas and poor visibility to arrive on scene as well as the incredible community effort shown by the residents of the tiny village of Hartley Bay who took to the water to transport passengers from the drifting lifeboats to waiting blankets, hot drinks and the comfort of dry land. The last person to leave the Queen of the North was the captain, departing the ship at 0112 (local time). Less than thirty minutes later with emergency deck lights still blazing the ferry settled swiftly, her last voyage taking her 430 metres to the bottom. Tragically, two persons were lost in the sinking. Two steel crosses mark the shoreline near where the Queen of the North sank in their memory.

The Canadian Coast Guard ship Sir Wilfred Laurier transported the bulk of the passengers and crew from their refuge at Hartley Bay to Prince Rupert. A Cormorant helicopter was dispatched to transport some of the crew and passengers who required more immediate assistance. The lifeboats from the ferry were collected and temporarily stowed at the Prince Rupert coast guard base where I photographed them. The other photos were taken in July 2004 on one of our many journeys aboard the Queen of the North in happier days – these are all in Grenville Channel on a sunny summer morning on a south bound transit.



To quote from this article please cite:

Salmon, Lynn (2014) Queen of the North – A Morning to Remember. Nauticapedia.ca 2014. http://nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Queen_North_Sinking.php

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