Some Early Mission Boats on the British Columbia Coast – the Udal and Homespun.

by David Webber 2019

The Udal

The mission boat Udal (I) (Photo from the David Webber collection.)

My great grandfather the Reverend C.W. Webber served as the missionary on the Methodist mission ships Udal (I) and Homespun from 1909–1910. Udal is a Haida word which means "the dearest thing I possess" and was named for Captain William Oliver’s wife Anne, whom I believe was an indigenous woman. The 56 foot Udal was built and owned by Captain William Oliver in 1908. He placed the ship at the disposal of the Methodist Church. She served in Methodist missions on the British Columbia coast from New Westminster to Stewart. Her maiden voyage left New Westminster on December 22, 1908.

According to Oliver Howard’s book The Godships, she went down in 30 fathoms of water on the way from Stewart to Port Simpson on July 12th, 1909, (8 miles from Tombstone Bay Alaska) after hitting an uncharted rock. She went down so quickly that Captain William Oliver and my great grandfather escaped with just the clothes on their backs, and, according to family lore, a harmonica in his pocket. William Oliver suffered the loss as the Methodist Church did not officially own the Udal. The Udal (I) (1908–1909) was 56 feet and served the 1000 km of the whole coast of BC.


The mission boat Homespun (Photo from the David Webber collection.)

The Homespun had been a private yacht and was bought and recommissioned to replaced the Udal. The Nauticapedia states that "In 1907–1910 she was owned by the United Church of Canada, Toronto ON. In 1910–1913 she was owned by William Oliver, Skidegate BC. In 1915–1918 she was owned by John K. Rennie, Vancouver BC. In 1921–1945 she was owned by George H. Jackson, Quatsino BC." It was owned by the Methodist Church, 46.0’ x 10.0’ x 4.5’, powered by a 18nhp gasoline engine, capable of 8 knots and served the Methodist Church from 1909 to when it was replaced by the 83 foot Thomas Crosby (I) in 1912. The Thomas Crosby I was powered by an oil–fired 160hp steam engine, and it served the whole coast until 1920.

The Udal (II) served as a mission boat from 1933–1941 only on the Queen Charlotte Island routes. The Nauticapedia reports that she was 41.5’ x 9.6’ x 4.7’. In 1927–1930 she was owned by The Attorney General of British Columbia, Victoria BC for the British Columbia Provincial Police. In 1932 she was owned by Gerald Weightman, Masset BC. In 1933–1941 she was owned by The United Church of Canada, Toronto ON. In 1944–1947 she was owned by Leonard L. Dunn, Pacofi BC. In 1949 she was owned by Lorne Linton, Prince Rupert BC. In 1958–1961 she was owned by Wilfred M. Smith, Masset BC. In 1977 as a yacht she was owned by British Columbia Packers Ltd., Richmond BC. In 1979 she was owned by Charles Burke (MO), Masset BC.

To quote from this article please cite:

Webber, David (2019) Some Early Mission Boats on the British Columbia Coast– the Udal and Homespun. 2019.

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