Farewell to a British Columbia Queen – The Queen of Vancouver

by Lynn Salmon 2013

Queen of Vancouver

Bridge Controls in the Queen of Vancouver (Photo from John MacFarlane collection)

The scrap yard: an ignoble end for any vessel. The demise of the Queen of Vancouver will be realized in Ensenada Mexico; submitted to the welders torch and rendered into fragments like a beached, mechanical whale.

Queen of Vancouver

Equipment in the Engine Room of the Queen of Vancouver (Photo from John MacFarlane collection)

But for 47 years the Queen of Vancouver sailed faithfully on scheduled runs between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay (and on occasion from Departure Bay, Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay, North Van) carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers and their vehicles. She was built in 1961 by Burrard Dry Dock Co. and was originally launched as M.V. City of Vancouver on January 16th, 1962 by Mrs A.T. Alsbury wife of the Mayor of Vancouver. A sister ship launched in October of 1961 was the M.V. City of Victoria. These two vessels were built slightly larger than the original two ferries Sidney and Tsawwassen (both 1960). By 1963 a naming protocol using 'Queen' was established.

Queen of Vancouver

Stern view Queen of Vancouver moored at Fanny Bay, BC. (Photo from Lynn Salmon collection)

Her capacity as built was 106 vehicles and 969 persons but in 1972 an additional 84 feet were inserted amidships giving her the ability to carry 42 more cars. Her dimensions increased to 426 feet overall with a beam of 78.5 feet. In 1981 a bold plan to ‘lift’ the ferries was undertaken and a complete car deck was inserted increasing the car-carrying capacity to 284 on both the Queen of Vancouver and the Victoria. It was an impressive and unique plan that extended the useful life of the ferries. The Queen of Esquimalt (1963) and the Queen of Saanich (1963) were also ‘stretched’ and ‘lifted’. The Esquimalt and Saanich had their capacities increased to 400 cars each but the 'Vic' and 'Van' had a modification to the lift to accommodate over-height vehicles and carried fewer cars.

Queen of Vancouver

Lifeboat Drill on the Queen of Vancouver (Photo from John MacFarlane collection)

Her service years were mostly without major incident; the same could not be said of her sister Victoria who spent her years involved in mishap and controversy. Queen of Victoria was speared by a Russian freighter in Active Pass, collapsed on the ways during a refit and had numerous other brushes with disaster. The Vancouver, by contrast, plowed the seas steadily and faithfully and was quietly decommissioned on April 15th 2009.

Queen of Vancouver

At anchor awaiting removal from Fanny Bay, BC. (Photo from Lynn Salmon collection)

Coast Marine initially purchased her and she spent two idle years in Howe Sound at Woodfibre, BC. She was sold again in 2011 to the Curiel family, the owners of a graving dock and other enterprises in Ensenada Mexico on the Baja Peninsula. In August 2012 the US-flagged tug Alan G. of Pacific Tugboat Service, 24 meters in length and built in 1971, towed the former ferry from her temporary mooring in Fanny Bay on Vancouver Island to Baja. The Queens Saanich and Esquimalt (renamed Princess Jacqueline for her southern voyage in June 2011 by Alan G.) were also sold for scrap to the Curiel family. Queen of Saanich was originally purchased for use as logging camp accommodations under the name Owen Belle but was sold to the Curiels in August 2011 for her scrap value. In September 2012 she was towed from anchorage off Anvil Island in Howe Sound by the tug Craig Trans and began her long last journey to Mexico.

Six enormous cement 20,000 pound mooring blocks were left at Fanny Bay to receive future vessels waiting for their transit to Mexico. Crew–less vessels are prepared for long tows by making certain they are watertight and everything that can move is either taken off the ship or battened down. As the British Columbia Ferry Services fleet ages the remaining original vessels will likely suffer a similar fate. But for thousands of British Columbians and visitors from all over the globe, the beautiful Queen ships will be fondly remembered and missed.


  • Philip Round (article in Comox Valley Echo - August 3, 2012)
  • Shawn J. Dake (article on www.maritimematters.com - posted August 15, 2012)
  • Dogwood Fleet (publishers Cadieux and Griffiths)
  • The Queens of British Columbia. Peter Favelle
  • The Ships of British Columbia. Gary Bannerman

To quote from this article please cite:

Salmon, Lynn (2013) Farewell to a British Columbia Queen – The Queen of Vancouver Nauticapedia.ca 2013. http://nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Queen_Vancouver.php

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