The Power Cruiser Songhee

by Garry Holland 2018


In front with hand on the bow line is W.S. Holland, the naval architect is on deck closest to the pilot house. The four Chinese men would have been the charge hands of the different trades in the yard. (They were the ‘aristocrats’ in their community and with whom it was essential for the yard to maintain a productive relationship to maintain quality of work and profitability.) The charge hand on deck would have been a Master Shipwright and would have outranked the three other charge hands. (Photo from the Garry Holland collection.)

In 1911 the Songhee (ON 130548) was built in Vancouver BC by W.R. Menchions & Co. Ltd. Shipyard. The vessel was built for my Grandfather (William Sowden Holland). She was 49.6’ x 14.0’ x 5.0’ wooden hulled 26gt 18rt She was powered by a 1.75hp engine by the Scripps Motor Co., Detroit MI USA.

In 1911–1913 she was owned by William S. Holland, Vancouver BC. In 1913 she was owned by A.W. LePage, Vancouver BC. In 1914–1919 she was owned by William S. Holland, Vancouver BC. In 1923 she was owned by James Tayler, Vancouver BC. In 1925 she was owned by Mrs. Margaret Tayler, Gibsons BC. In 1926–1930 she was owned by Lieutenant–Colonel Francis H.M. Codville, Victoria BC. In 1930–1937 she was owned by Mrs. Francis H.M. Codville, Egmont BC. In 1938–1943 she was owned by Mrs. Janet E. Alcock, Vancouver BC. In 1945–1973 she was owned by Robert H. Alcock (MO), Victoria BC.


William S. Holland (sitting forward on port railing), Frances Ann MacDougall Holland (Grandmother sitting to his left), the Chief Fitter () behind Holland), the naval architect (behind Mrs. Holland), eldest son of W.R. Menchions (to left of naval architect), son of W.R. Menchions (on his left), Master Shipwright/Yard Foreman (aft of wheelhouse), W.R. Menchions next to Shipwright and hands in pockets).(Photo from the Garry Holland collection.)

These pictures were taken the day before the launching at the builder’s yard. The shipyard of W.R. Menchions Ltd. was located at the north foot of Cardero Street in Vancouver until 1985. (This would be immediately east of the the present day Westin Bayshore Hotel.)

It was the custom of the day that preceding the launch that those whose skills had created the vessel were thanked by the owner, the designer, and the yard bosses. This event was followed by a short ceremony of recognition, usually just after the lunch break. The workmen would then be given the balance of the day off (without pay it might be noted.)

None of the names of the yard crew are recorded anywhere. What is noteworthy is that they are almost all of Chinese origin. They would have come from the south of China and highly skilled in joinery and ship construction. Every shipyard on the B.C. coast aggressively sought out Chinese artisans for their crews. It was later on that Japanese artisans became dominant in those trades.

To quote from this article please cite:

Holland, Garry (2018) The Power Cruiser Songhee. 2018.

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