In 1905, maritime traffic in Vancouver never stopped; ships arrived in the city every day. British Columbia’s waterways allowed Vancouver to maintain links with isolated communities along the coast, as well as those of the interior where the province’s fertile land was found. Sailing vessels and steamboats plied the channels along the coast and the Fraser River. Boats were therefore a vital link in British Columbia’s transportation network.

The ships of the Union Steamship Company and the trains of the Canadian Pacific Railway worked together to serve the canneries, forestry companies and mines all along the coast, as well as Canada’s other western provinces. Without the sea, British Columbia would not have been the same. Commerce was flourishing and since natural resources were abundant, everything could be exported. By 1890, even sailboats were being built, including parts like the spars made from Douglas Fur trees, for famous boats like the Bluenose that is today found on our 10 cent coins. But steamships with steel hulls, like the Empress, quickly replaced sailboats because they were more solid for ocean crossings.

Tourism had also taken off and visitors would come from around the world to discover this magnificent region. But it was mostly Chinese immigrants who arrived each day. The ships that carried them made the crossing between China and Vancouver in three weeks. These ships looked like huge sail and steam boats. You had to be there to see this never-ending ballet of boats of all kinds that sailed throughout the year.


Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social

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