- the ship in the foreground is the Cardena (the name on her bow is visible on the other half of the photo, which I didn't scan)
- I find it interesting that HMS Hood was visiting Vancouver. HMS Hood had a sad ending, with all but 3 persons going down with the ship during a famous WWII naval engagement (1,415 sailors lost). www.hmshood.com/
One of the things I like about reading about the Union Steamship Company is learning about the numerous communities that existed all up and down the coast, especially in the first half of the 20th century. Huge canneries, bustling towns, busy lumber mills... and today, in many cases, they're nothing but ghost towns, pilings in the water, or shadows of their former glory. Places like Vananda on Texada Island and Union Bay south of Courtenay just to name a couple of the more well known places.
Post by Low Light Mike on Dec 22, 2007 3:38:40 GMT -8
Thanks for the post, Neil. That size of scan was just-right for reading size.
...and I learned something new from this, re the discovery of this wreck.
ps: Do you think that it's just coincidence that the 1976 new jumbo-ferries were named by BC Ferries as Queens of "Coquitlam" and "Cowichan".....both names having history as Union Steamships? (Or "MV Coastal Cynthia"?)
Post by Retrovision on Dec 22, 2007 5:03:49 GMT -8
Thanks for the entry Neil, and I mean entry; this I consider my entry into the up until recently unfamiliar to me world of the Union Steamship Company. Thanks to one particular book that I now respect above most, an aural history of the Union Steamship Company, Navigating the Coast: A History of the Union Steamship Company (Sound Heritage Volume VI, No. 2), I now have not only a want to learn more but a serious knowledge base. I have a more technically authoritative book on the topic, the one that most of you all proabably know, but this, an aural history, relates the way it was in the words of those who worked the shifts.
I'll begin with the most provocative story, one that wouldn't happen without consequence today...
ROBERT NAUGHTY: The Lady Cecilia and the Lady Cynthia came over after the First World War. They were long, narrow, gutted things. I think they were 225 feet long. They built them as subchasers and they only had lower decks on them. They wanted this passenger deck built up above, but that would make her top heavy, so what they did was put sponsons on the sides. We never filled them with water. They had them built like tanks. You could walk along them. They were wide enough that I could walk along them because one night we were on a moonlight cruise to Bowen Island and the skipper said: "look." Looked over the side and there's this drunk out there staggering up - these sponsons are about 2 feet wide. "God" he says "we'll have to get him off there"And as it happened the general manager was aboard up on the bridge at the time so I knew I had to do something. So I said: "I can get along there." I'd walked them quite a few times, but not when the ship was running full speed. Not chasing a drunk anyhow. He saw me come out the freight door and I started up the sponson and I wasn't running neither. He spotted me. The sponson tapers off into nothing, into a point, by the saloon port-holes aft. They're big enough to get a man through. They were the biggest portholes on the ship. I was watching my feet and going along and then I looked up and I couldn't see him. He'd gone. I got up as far as saloon part and I went in there and I couldn't find him cause it was getting dusk and I didn't know how he was dressed. They had an orchestra taking the dance cruise up. I couldn't pick him up anyhow, I went up to the bridge and I said to the skipper, "Gee, I don't know if he went in through the porthole." I didn't want to do that again, I'll tell you.
The last passage that I quoted was simply my probable favorite, though so many more highlights come from the same book / aural history...
In no particular order (for now), here's what I call "How Naughty lost his exemplary rations" (Starting on Page 64)
ROBERT NAUGHTY: I joined the Chelosin under Captain Gaisford. He could see in the dark. No radar. Captain Gaisford liked to keep one quartermaster. We did six and six. One quartermaster was with the chief officer. The chief officer made his own landings from midnight until 6 in the morning with his own quartermaster. I was on the 6 to 12 with Captain Gaisford. If you were once quartermaster with Captain Gaisford and he liked you and you got to know what he wanted docking, he didn't want to let you go. And I was a fair-haired boy. I got his magazines. He didn't read them for a week and I'd get them. The crew didn't get fruit, of course. The steward would bring up his fruit and that was all handed to me. He didn't eat fruit. I spoiled all that by telling him about the weather.
It had been boiling hot, oh boy. We had six weeks without rain and it was sweating. The old Chelosin had her steering engine in the wheelhouse. It was steam and you stood with the wheel at your hand and a little seat if you wanted to rest. You know, six hours is a long time, but it was only a tiny thing that you got rear-end up on and kind of leaned against. This engine would go "brrrr" everytime you turned the wheel, and the steam came out of this engine. It was sweating in the wheelhouse.
Captain Gaisford's room was behind and one side of the wheelhouse and the other side was the chief officer's room. I was kind of young and brash. He had a window that looked out onto the passenger deck. He had a wooden venetian blind that he used to put down so passengers wouldn't look in on him. It was quite dark. He had to put the light on all the time.
I had to call him at 5 o'clock to get ready for supper. That was my job. I walked in. God, it was hot! He said: "Okay sonny, okay sonny, how's the weather?" And I said: "Pouring cats and dogs." As a joke, you know, and he came out in 15 minutes and he had his sou'wester on, his gumboots and his jacket and here's the sun blazing down, Well, did he light into me! I lost my magazines and fuit for two weeks. I thought I was being funny, but he figured you've got to have some respect for the master.
Post by Queen of Nanaimo Teen on Jan 3, 2008 0:44:17 GMT -8
I wonder why they called the Cowichan and Lady Cynthia sisters? They are not closely related at all. I'm not even aware of the Cowichan having a sister ship. Miss Cynthia's siter was Cecilia of course.
As I happen to have the time presently, let's keep with the same voice (same publication of course, Page 15 to start this time)...
ROBERT NAUGHTY: The Cardena was on every letterhead. The Cardena was the flagship at the time. Then the Catala come out and she was a more modern, spacious vessel, you know, covered promenade decks. You could walk around the decks in the rain and everything.
On the Catala and the Cardena, quartermasters had their own rooms. Two in a room, cause you did six-hour watches. It was two quartermasters, two watchman, two winchmen. They all had their own cabins, two in a room. The crew, the deckhands, had an open foc'sle. There might be 10 of them in there. They had their own washrooms, showers, and everything. Wasn't bad at all. And they really fed you. You got the same as the passengers.
>From other voices, one in particular this morning, I continue<
WILLIAM McCOMBE: I was on every ship they had. I worked up from the third mate of the Cowichan. When we arrived here, that Cardena was a beautiful ship. She looked like a ship. Her lines were beautiful. She sat in the water like a ship. When we pulled into the Union Steamship dock from Glasgow, the wireless operator was standing beside me. He was going down to San Francisco to be married. He met a girl on a world tour and this was his way of getting out to Frisco. I'm looking things over and there was the Cowichan behind us with a French funnel. The top half went down into the bottom half. They had it for going through the Red Sea. They put the top part up for more air for the boilers and I said: " That can't belong to the company that owns this ship. Impossible!" The Cassiar, we were looking at that. "What a bunch of rubbish is around here. Surely this thing don't belong to them!" It did.
Post by Low Light Mike on Dec 23, 2009 14:04:26 GMT -8
Here's a story of a bygone era. This is a good thread to post it in...
North Island MidWeek Desolation Sound’s not so bad with company
By Bruce Lloyd - North Island MidWeek Published: November 16, 2009 1:00 PM
Chuck” is Chinook jargon for “water” and when you out on it you will find a paradox around every headland and a tale in every harbour” – Gilean Douglas
From the air the whole thing looks like some sort of haphazard maze.
Even now, when the vast majority of man’s part of it all has rusted, drifted and crumbled away, flying over it is so entrancing that one finds himself looking back at this or that feature while half a dozen other peaks, waterways, shoals, rapids and bays yearn and beg for one’s attentions.
Indeed, it is a fascinating and visually demanding thing to fly above these “Evergreen Islands” as they have been called. These are the “Inside” coastal waters between the southern tip of Bowen Island and the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
But the real old timers saw it all by boat. That’s something that for the most part you can’t do anymore unless you have a decent one and the ability to navigate with skill given that these passageways are demanding due to tides, shoals, as well as challenging visibility as well as weather.
Fortunately, you can still experience this by sailing through the inlets of western Vancouver Island on the M.V. Uchuck out of Gold River or the M.V. Frances Barkley on Alberni Inlet.
Yet even if these last two vestiges of coastal-type steamers were to fade away, there would still be the chance to read about them and their journeys. Such books as “Those Beautiful Coastal Liners” the story of the CPR’s West Coast fleet, “Up the Inlet” and “The Good Company,” both telling the tale of the old Union Steam Ships Line, as well as a number of other books make for reading every bit as fascinating as the mysterious coastal waters we are speaking of.
And then a little book fell into my hands named “Upcoast Summers” by Beth Hill. This book is unusual in that it is a simple tale of a fine older couple, Francis and Amy Barrow, who traveled this now deserted, but back then, a colorfully inhabited coast for a few decades; and kept a log of it all.
The stories genuinely capture the type of people they come upon and the “down home” nature of this vanished civilization in its simple beauty. It’s the story of such things as endless crib tournaments aboard a little boat in Desolation Sound. One tourney between old fellows lasted 89 games! At each stop the hospitality shown is genuine and appreciated here on the “old” coast, where to have visitors was a great delight for those who most often passed days alone.
In this book is a snapshot of John Antle who ministered to the coast with medicine for both the spirit and body through the Columbia Missions Hospitals and ships.
“One day as he was conducting a service in the chapel of the Columbia, a man shouted from the shore about a bad accident in a camp up Johnstone Strait. Antle slammed closed the bible, started the motor, cast off and headed out. One of the abandoned worshippers, hastily leaping ashore, remarked: ‘that was the best sermon I ever heard!’”
There’s a story of interviewing old Chief Julien about the old times among the natives, dozens of stories of digging through the old Indian middens to find such treasures as copper bracelets and the like.
The story of two English spinsters, Misses Dibbin and Obrien, who “got tired of drinking tea” and set up a small sanatorium for native tuberculosis victims in the midst of nowhere.
There’s the story of helping the famous Halliday families of Kingcome Inlet with their haying; Knight Inlet Grizzly watching; the tales of Tom Brazil of Hardy Island who had every creature tamed on that beautiful island so well, that he petted the deer and rode the bear!
Captain Brealeau, Skipper of Beta II, related the story to Barrow of his once saying to Tom jokingly as a flock of pheasants flew past “Gee, if only I had a shotgun...”
Tom replied, “You don’t need a gun,” and whistled. Three pheasants flew down out of the sky to his feet! I wouldn’t believe the tale myself if I wasn’t from that area and heard of Brazil myself as a child! The book is full of gentle adventures, the milk of human kindness, sharing of what little one had, and, most importantly, the vanished history of a more civilized people with a largely forgotten way of life...one that we might have to adopt again given the times!
Post by Low Light Mike on Dec 23, 2009 16:43:15 GMT -8
In the past couple of years, I've become more interested in the history of the Union company, and also in better understanding and experiencing what that history was actually like.
To that end, I have done the following: - purchased and read 3 books on the history - taken 2 trips on each of the MV Frances Barkley and the BCF Route-40 Queen of Chilliwack, to experience first-hand what the working-coast is like today, and to use that to try and experience what the times of the Union company might have been like
I have also stumbled across various Union memorabilia: - at the Campbell River museum - from my Mother in-law's research and family collections.
I am looking to experience more of the Union history by visiting some of their areas of vacation-trip service. - I will be in Sechelt in the next few weeks, and will be looking for any plaque/marker evidence on the public wharves in Sechelt and Selma Park (the old Red Line service area).
========== I will also be wanting to visit Bowen Island sometime in 2010, to visit 2 places that have a little bit (and hopefully actually a lot) of Union memorabilia or infrastructure:
Post by Low Light Mike on Dec 23, 2009 17:19:44 GMT -8
The Bowen Island museum website has many Union Steamship related photographs in their on-line archives. bih.andornot.com/
Here are my favourite pictures, found by doing a "union" word search: - these are links to full page pictures. Then click on the picture for a zoom. - If you are interested in Union Steamships, I think you'll like all of the links below.... Thanks Museum! ==============
That's a great collection of photos Flugel. I've always loved the ships of the union fleet.
I think, though, you have that one photo mislabeled. As far as I know the Union never had any four funneled ships. I don't think any ship on the west coast was ever quite that grand. I believe what you have in that view, is two ships side by side, with their funnels lining up just right, so it looks like one ship with four funnels. Looks like the two sisters, Lady Cecilia and Lady Cynthia posing side by side in that view.
Don't know if this has been posted before... this is the information board on Bowen history and Union Steamships that one finds at Snug Cove. The other side of the three panels is information as well. It's located in the Davies Orchard, amid the cottages, just below the ball field. Head to the left along the shore when you get off the ferry, and there's a dirt path/driveway up from the water, just past the grassy area behind Doc Morgan's. Definitely worth a look.
Post by Low Light Mike on Aug 6, 2010 19:17:49 GMT -8
The Union Steamship memorabilia at the museum in Stewart BC.
1939 schedule to Stewart for the Catala.
The California sands fate of the Catala.
1956 Winter schedule. - almost the end of the company. - The schedule refers to the ports (such as Port Simpson and Stewart) as "intermediate", but yet these places are not between Vancouver and Prince Rupert. - I wonder if there was a ship based out of Prince Rupert that did the run north, and then back to Prince Rupert?