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The Steamship Princess Victoria

Northern Ships and Shipping

Princess Victoria, 1912 - photo by Asahel Curtis.


Vancouver Daily World, Vancouver, BC - March 28, 1903

    AT THE time of going to press, the new Canadian Pacific ferry steamer Princess Victoria is entering port after her long voyage from Newcastle-on-Tyne to Vancouver, via the Horn. This morning at 9 o'clock she reached Victoria, and an hour later proceeded on her way across the Gulf. The Princess Victoria has created a remarkable record for speed, completing the trip is 57 days, 17 hours; from this, however, must be deducted 83 hours for stoppages en route at the two places where the steamer coaled. Leaving the English channel, bad weather was experienced for several days, but the Princess' performance in the storm was splendid. Capt. Cooper was delighted with the manner in which she answered the slightest on the wheel, and the perfectly smooth and easy action of the machinery was the cause of immense satisfaction.
    The ferry will be tied up alongside the C.P.R. wharf near No. 5 shed, where she will remain while her fittings and furnishings are being installed. She is a beautiful example of skilled marine construction, a credit bot to the enterprise of the company which has built her, and to the two cities between which she will daily ply. Capt. Cooper has been in charge of the Princess Victoria since she left Newcastle-on-Tyne. He it was who brought out the Princess May, then known as the Hating, at the time that vessel w as acquired by the C.P.N. Co. The Princess Victoria sailed on Jan. 28, and but two stops have been made on the way out. She coaled at both Rio de Janeiro and Coronal, arriving at the former place on Feb. 20. The performance of the vessel has greatly pleased the officials of the company, for, as stated above, she has broken all previous records for the long voyage. It will be remembered by many that when the steamers Tartar and Athenia were brought out from England at the time of the Klondike rush to be put on the Skagway route, they occupied 66 and 68 days in rounding the Horn. Both the Islander and the Quadra, which were built in England, consumed a considerably longer time, the former occupying 84 days and the later 72. Compared with these performances the record established by the Princess Victoria is certainly most creditable.
    In ordering the new ferry upon such modern and magnificent lines, the Canadian Pacific Navigation Company exhibited the enterprise which has ever characterized their liberal and farseeing policy. A vessel that would merely meet existing requirements was not sufficient. The Charmer can accommodate the ordinary freight and passenger traffic between this city and the capital, but the Princess Victoria will provide an added comfort for the passengers, will cut down the time required for the trip quite considerably and will make summer excursions across the Gulf far more popular than ever they have been in the past. She will travel at a speed between eighteen and nineteen knots, and will maintain it throughout her seervice. In placing his orders, Sir Thomas desired the builders, Messrs, Swan and Hunter, to turn out a vessel that would tax the limits of their abilities as marine constructors. As a consequence, the Princess Victoria is as unsinkable as additional bulkheads and watertight compartments could make her.
    The new three funnel ferry is a twin screw steamer of the following dimensions: Length, between perpendiculars, 300 feet; beam, extreme, 40 feet 6 inches; and depth, moulded, 18 feet 6 inches. She will accommodate a very large number of passengers. On the upper deck aft is a large deckhouse containing the dining saloon, which has accommodation for ninety saloon passengers. From the after end of the engine casing to the stem the plating is carried up to the hurricane deck, and in this space at the after end are the rooms for the engineers and petty officers. Just forward, the space is reserved for second class passengers.
    On the hurricane deck is placed a large almost the whole width of the vessel at the sides of which are the staterooms for the saloon passengers. The space between these cabins, which is nearly 245 feet in length, will be fitted up as a sitting room from which access will be had to the dining room below by a commodious staircase aft of the engine room. At the forward end of the house a considerable space is reserved for the second class entrance and smoking room. Forward is the main staircase for the saloon passengers which gives access to the deck above.
    The deck has a large opening, which gives to the sitting room beneath a very lofty and handsome appearance. The house on this deck extends for a length of 170 feet and is arranged on the same principle as the one below. The space at the forward end, however, will be fitted up as an observation room, having large, square windows.
    The Princess Victoria presents a handsome appearance with her two-pole masts and three funnels. Her engines, like the cabin furnishings, are of the very best material and workmanship obtainable. They are of the triple expansion style working on four cranks and balanced on the Yarrow, Schlick and Tweedy system. The cylinders are 34 inch, 40 inch and 43 inch, with a common stroke of 33 inches. They developed 5,500 horse power on the trial trip, steam being supplied by six single ended boilers, 15 feet in diameter and 11 feet long, working at a pressure of 160 pounds per square inch. The draught will be assisted by fans. In designing the vessel, special attention was paid to safety as well as to the comfort of the passengers. There is a double bottom with watertight flats and a number of additional watertight bulkheads which will make the Princess Victoria practically unsinkable. The construction of the ship and the installation of her engines have been under the able superintendence of Mr. J. B. Cousins, of Glasgow. On leaving the ways, the vessel was named the Princess Victoria by Mrs. Archer Baker, wife of the European traffic manager of the Canadian Pacific railway.
    Work will be commenced on the furnishings and fittings of the steamer immediately, and while it is in progress se will remain alongside the C.P.R. wharf near No. 5 shed. Most of the required pieces have been prepared in anticipation of the vessel's arrival, and this fact will enable the workmen to greatly expedite the work of refitting the interior.


Times Colonist, Victoria, BC - March 11, 1953

By Monte Roberts

    The former speed queen of the Pacific Coast, and one of the most-loved ships ever to ply these waters, today lies 40 fathoms deep near Sechelt, on the B.C. mainland.
    In her days of glory, she was CPSS Princess Victoria - and she went to her grave as an unglamorous hog-fuel carrier wearing the name "Tahsis III."
    The hull of the once-beautiful pride of the CPR struck a rock while under tow in Welcome Pass, 10 miles north of Sechelt, on Tuesday. With her into deep water went a $20,000 cargo of hemlock pulp chips, consigned to the Powell River Company.
    Princess Victoria's early years were filled with the romance of the seas. Her career began in 1903, when she arrived in her namesake city after a voyage through Straits of Magellan.
    At that time, she showed no signs of the sea-going beauty which was to distinguish her most of her life, for she voyaged from her builders in England to this coast without superstructure. This was added in Vancouver.
    In 1904, Princess Victoria started a Seattle-Victoria-Vancouver-Victoria-Seattle service which she covered every day - and she needed fancy footwork to maintain schedule. Even in stormy weather, she could crank up her speed to 19 knots, and during her life on the coast showed her propellers to Ss. Iroquois and Chippewa in races between Victoria and Seattle.
    Waterfront friends will always remember the first of the "White Princesses" for her spectacular "full ahead - full astern" method of docking.
    In 1930, she was widened to carry cars, but during the depression was withdrawn from service to act as a floating hotel at Newcastle Island in Nanaimo Harbour. Then, with the war, she was again pressed into service - her Swedish reciprocating engines still in excellent condition.
    Princess Victoria remained active until her 48th year. In 1950, CPR retired her, and she was anchored in Thetis Cove. Then she was purchased, in 1951, by Capital Iron and Junk, and in March, 1952, she sailed the last mile to Government Graving Dock, where her propeller shafts were drawn, and her hull converted for use as a hog fuel carrier.
    For the past year, Princess Victoria - now Tahsis III - served on the Vancouver - Powell River run for the Tahsis Company Limited.