copyright '00/6

(Pic. of museum.)
VMM (Vancouver Maritime Museum)

VANCOUVER MARITIME MUSEUM
Story and Photos by

by

LEE A. WOOD

The North East Coast of the U. S. of A. has found a new home on the South West Coast of Canada.

BENJAMIN
FRANLIN
(Pic. of submersible.)
The Ben. Franklin returns to Vancouver, Permanently.

Built from `66 to `68 in Florida for Jacques Piccard (Noted Swiss oceanographer) the Benjamin Franklin, a deep water research vessel now resides outside the Vancouver Maritime Museum where it awaits volunteers and donators for workmen and funds to; erect a stand, refurbish, reassemble, and mount the latest permanent display of the museum.

BENJAMIN
FRANKLIN

Built in Florida.

(pic. of submersible)
Now on stands, but still not fully reassembled,
the Benjamin Franklin sits in front of the West wing
of the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
Upon completion, of restoration, the Ben' Franklin will become,
once again, a class room for students.

Built with the support of the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation and NASA the Benjamin Franklin had a very short career. Designed to be used for training astronauts, she made very few descents, the most notable of which was a thirty day drift dive.

Brought to Vancouver for refit in `69 she will be again used as originally intended, in a program called aquanaut/astronaut. Having laid in storage for the past thirty years the Benjamin Franklin has been acquired as a classroom by the Vancouver Maritime Museum.

The Benjamin Franklin is not the only vessel that the Vancouver Maritime Museum has on display, nor is she the only one not in the water.

The, 22,000 sq. ft., Vancouver Maritime Museum is rather a unique edifice in that it houses an entire vessel. I spoke with James P. Delgado FRGS (Fellow of Royal Geographical Society), the executive director of the museum, who told me that unlike most museums which sort of grow upon themselves, the Vancouver Maritime Museum was the first purposely designed and built museum.

The St. Roch Preservation Society purchased the St. Roch and brought it home, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, through the panama canal making in the first vessel to circumnavigate North America, clockwise. The St. Roch would become the cornerstone of the new museum.

The wooden hulled vessel (The hull was specially constructed to withstand the crushing ice of the Arctic Ocean) was to be pulled ashore stern first but this proved impossible so she was beached at Kitsalano Point with her stern pointing towards False Creek (False because it looks like a creek but is really a small inlet.).

Kitsalano Point was chosen as it has a good view of False Creek and English Bay.

Around the beached boat a concrete dry dock, seawall, and pad were built. A museum was built atop the pad and opened on June 11, 1959. Ten years after retiring from its twenty-two years of service for the R. C. M. P. (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) in the North West Territories the two masted schooner was permanently berthed in the town of its birth.

As time passed, fill was added around the museum to form a park and a harbour. Later a glass `A' frame was added to the Northern end of the museum to protect the St. Roch, masts and all.

Although it has made it through the Northwest Passage in one season, the first vessel to ever do so from West to East, the St. Roch, who's purpose was to carry supplies to the R. C. M. P. detachments in the Northwest Territories often spent the winter in the frozen North. Wherever it became trapped in the ice, it became a police detachment until Spring, when the ice would break up and it was able to continue its journey.

Among the St. Roch's other firsts are that of; traveling through the Northwest Passage in both directions, circumnavigating North America, circumnavigating North America more than once, circumnavigating North America in both directions.

Obviously the St. Roch, being the cornerstone of the museum, demands emphasis on the history of Northern Canada, the land, the ocean, and the people, as well as the maritime aspect of the R. C. M. P.

DINGHY(Pic. of row boat.)
A lap Strake Dinghy sits on the wharf beside the Northern Spray.

The museum has a collection of Inuit kayaks, sculptures, as well as photos and other items pertaining to the voyages of the St. Roch. Many of the photos were taken by the crew members of the vessel and show the interactions between the St. Roch and the natives.

Currently the photos have been computer catalogued but are not yet available on line. One of the museum's projects for this year is to electronically repatriate these photos to the natives of the North. Many of whom, have never seen pictures of their ancestors.

A WILLIAM ATKIN
THISTLE GAFF RIGGED
KETCH

(Pic. of Grischuna)
GRISCHUNA
Cedar planking on oak frames.
Fir decks with gumwood trims.

(Pic. of Grischuna)

L.O.A. 41' - L.O.D. 32' - Beam 11' 10" - Draft 6'

Built in Comox
in `81
by G. Bruigum

The St. Roch forms a major part of one emphasis of the museum, that of Vancouver as a gateway to the Pacific Ocean or vice versa, a gateway to Canada for the Pacific rim countries.

The other emphasis of the museum is that of the Port of Vancouver and the B. C. Coast and its adjoining interior waterways: the supplying of towns, villages, and logging camps by coastal freighters, most of which work out of the Port of Vancouver; industries such as logging, fishing, ship building; and the history of fur trading and early exploration by the British, French, and Spanish.

Both emphasis are found in the W. B. & M. H. Chung, 16,000 volume, library which has been completely catalogued and is available on line at http://www.vmm.bc.ca

The library, built in `93 through the generosity of Drs. Wallace and Madeline Chung, includes: coastal charts of B. C. As well as the Arctic and most of the Pacific; 80,000 photos, prints, negatives, and glass plates divided into Pacific ships and ship portraits.

The museum itself has such artifacts as: items from Capt. George Vancouver; navigational instruments (sextant and telescope from Joseph Baker who was third in command of the HMS Vancouver, the sea chest of William Brock who was second in command, an Arnold 176 chronometer that was used by Capt. Vancouver); hand drawn charts from Capt. James Cook's third voyage; and other period pieces.

As well the museum has: a strong ephemeral collection which includes: clippings; ships menus; maritime personalities; companies: an archival collection; thousands of ship's plans; hundreds of log books, including personal logs from the crew of the St. Roch; original records of all seamen that have shipped out of the Port of Vancouver. This latter has been of great use to the veterans who are now being awarded back pay by the Canadian Govt. for their services during the war.

The library itself is constantly in use by: scholars and writers doing research; teachers researching curriculums; students doing dissertations and thesis; and children who come to learn.

Over one third of the museum's 12,000 Sq. Ft. that is open to the public, is the Children's Maritime Discovery Center. Here you will find school programs that show: the importance to the sea of math and geometry; the harbour as a community; the multiculturalism that derives from an international port; and the fun of learning.

Included in this is, `Man the Oars, Map the Coast', a permanent exhibit and school program that focuses on the exploration of the B. C. Coast. Most of the mapping of the coast was done from longboats, while the sailors manned the oars the officers on the ship would mark their position on a chart.

A few years ago a large window was cut in the concrete wall on the end of the building and two large telescopes were installed. From here, with the daily Harbour Master's report, children can observe the ocean highway as the world enters and exits the Port of Vancouver.

SOLSTICE
L.O.A. 53'
Beam 13' 6"
Draft 6' 6"
(Pic. of Solstice.)
A gaff-rigged topsail schooner designed and built by her Vancouver owner.
Honduras mahogany strip planked over an oak frame.

Inside the museum is half of the foc'sle, in full scale, of the HMS Discovery. Visitors can go aboard, sleep in a hammock, taste hardtack, and learn to duck so they don't hit their heads in the low ceiling conditions that sailors had to live in.

In another area of the museum you will find the wheelhouse of an ocean going tugboat, the floor hums to the rumble of the engines as you steer the tug into the waves.

`Chart Your Course' is a three fold title that: refers to the future direction of the museum itself; a list of permanent programs and map that will guide visitors through the museum; and the lectures, series and individual; meetings of partner groups; and meetings of regular groups who have guest lectures. Groups such as the Underwater Archeological Society, the Blue Water Cruising Society, B. C. Multi Hull Society, SS Masters Society, that use the meeting room facilities of the museum.

NORTHERN
SPRAY

L.O.A. 60'
Beam 14' 6"
Draft 4' 6"
Built in California
in 1980
(Pic. of S.)
Northern Spray has sailed the coast of South, and North, America.
Once a commercial fish boat it is a replica,
except for the cabin and the Chinese Junk rigging,
of the sloop `Spray' which was the first vessel
to complete a solo circumnavigation of the Earth. Owned by an author, a picture of the Northern Spray, will adorn the cover of his latest book.

One of the prize exhibits of the museum is a boat made from bone. French prisoners of war, imprisoned in the Portchester Castle in England would save the bones from their meals. Shaped and carved by hand, `Le Vengeur Du Peuple' (Circa 1794) looks like it was made from Ivory.

The museum is ideally situated as from its front windows, or its front lawn, one can view freighters and pleasure craft from the B. C. coast and all over the world as they steam or sail through English Bay in and out of, the Inner Harbour of Burrard inlet, or False Creek.

BOBBLE
BOAT
(Pic. of small ferry.)
Granville Island Ferries arrives from points in False Creek.

One of the vessels moving in and out of False Creek is the ten passenger ferry, that I call bobble boats. The cute little enclosed boats dock at the Heritage Harbour and commute shoppers and visitors to Granville Island, the Aquatic Center at Sunset Beach, Science World, Stamps Landing, and the Plaza of Nations.

Following the winding path across the sloping lawns from the front of the museum will take you to the dock.

DOCKS(Pic. of small ferry.)
The tide is out and the boats sit well below
the top of the man-made breakwater.

The dock is located in Heritage Harbour which is the floating part of the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Here at the wharves you will find such permanent residents as the Black Duck (an R.C.A.F. [Royal Canadian Air Force] rescue vessel), temporary residents (Master [a steam tug that still works] if she is not out on a job), (Sam McKinney's Northern Spray) or you may encounter such visitors as: the HMS Bounty (the Australian built replica), which visited in the summer of `99; the Sonya Spirit (one of the first cold molded boats); a `39 wooden passenger ferry that served Salt Spring Island; modern aluminum hulled fire boats; yachts; missionary boats that serve the B. C. coast; and forest ranger boats.

SHOP(Pic. of small shop.)
The small boat work shop,
Its back end rests on the breakwater at low tide.
Currently it houses a long boat from a Spanish Galleon.

A recent addition to the harbour is the workshop, for small boat repair and boat building, that opened in Dec. `99. Here will be repaired several vessels, from a Peterborough Canoe, lifeboats, a lap strake dingy, to a steam launch, all of which the museum currently has in storage.

SEINER?
L.O.A. 47'
Beam 13'
Draft 7'
(Pic. of fish boat)
BCP 45 was featured on the back of the Canadian five dollar bill.
She was built as a table seiner at the Burrard Shipyards
in North Vancouver but has also served as;
a trawler, a gill netter, and a drum seiner.
She last did duty, commercially, in `95.

Heritage Harbour, open to the public is home to the BCP 45 which is a 28 Ft. wooden seiner that was owned and operated by B. C. natives. This typical West Coast fishing vessel was used by the engraver when he designed the back of the Canadian five dollar bill which was in circulation until `87.

The Vancouver Maritime Museum supports and participates in the annual Wooden Boat Show held at Granville Island by the Vancouver Wooden Boat Society, but does not host one of its own as its dock facilities are not large enough.

END

RELATED WEB SITES

(Vancouver Maritime Museum, Vancouver, Canada.)
VANCOUVER MARITIME MUSEUM

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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(Pic. of museum.)
MODEL MUSEUM ON GRANVILLE ISLAND.

MODEL MUSEUM

Story by

LEE A. WOOD

NOTE: This museum no longer exists.

Which is sad, because it was a wonderful collection, artfully displayed.

As a tour bus driver I should know Vancouver (B. C. Canada) like the back of my hand, at least all the highlights. I can't begin to count how many times I have driven, bicycled, and walked Granville Island. Yet it wasn't until this past weekend that I learned that there is a museum on the island. Not only that but, in the middle of an attraction that has a tour bus parking problem, it is the only business on the Island that has its own space for tour busses.

And its not like it is hard to find. In the center of all the attractions on the island there is a large, bright, neon sign that sticks out like a movie theatre marquee. It is on your left, just after you cross the bridge, as you enter the island.

The thing is that one is busy looking at all the wonders of Granville Island and you don't realize that you are on a bridge as well as under one. As you travel along Anderson street, under the Granville St. Bridge, you are concentrating on traffic but you do notice there are sailboats parked to your left. On your right is the Kids Only Market and then you are into a `right turn only' intersection.

Find a place to park and then walk back to the intersection.

The museums are on the far side, virtually in the middle of the intersection.

Model Ship Museum, Sport Fishing Museum, Model Train Museum, the sign proclaims. And why does the sign say `Museum' thrice? Because in actuality it is three museums in one.

As one winds their way through the labyrinth of isles and passageways between the displays it is hard to realize that there are actually three distinct areas within the quaint old building known as the Maritime Market.

John Keith-King who operated the market, marina, and boat yard for twenty years opened two of the museums in 1997.

The ship area contains models that have been constructed by, mostly, British Columbians. As one would expect from the name there are many ships, all are well constructed and expertly detailed. Two that caught my attention were the Seaspan Yarder and the Corvette.

The Yarder is a log barge and is beautifully replicated including its life like load of logs. One of the reasons that I enjoyed that exhibit is that I have watched the real `Yarder' unload. It does so by flooding one side of its hull until it tips over enough for all the logs to slide off. What an awesome sight as it bounces sideways, out from under its load.

Though it is not uncommon for people to talk of the HMS Hood, a 13 ft. 700 # replica is contained in the collection, Corvettes are normally thought of as cars. For years I have been trying to finish my model of the Mayflower Class Corvette that did so much during the Second World War to keep Canada free from tyranny. I know that when I do complete my model it will never be as well done as the one at the Model Ships Museum.

In the ships area you will find a large collection of submarines. One of the subs has been used for the filming of an episode of the TV series `X Files'.

The Sports Fishing area contains a large collection of flies, if I didn't know better I would swear that John has been scouring the bushes where I go fishing, all I ever catch is weeds and trees. I have certainly never caught one of the specimens of fish that are displayed, mounted on the walls, and hanging from the rafters.

All the paraphernalia that has been used throughout the century to catch these aquatic denizens can be found in this `world's largest collection': creels; nets; priests; lures; gaffs; etc. As well, there are books on `how to' and plates and paintings of the ones that got away.

The third museum, opened early in `99, contains the world's largest public display of toy and model trains. Engines and cars of all sizes, N scale to G scale, and larger, brands from Hornby to Lionel. Shelf after shelf of individual units are displayed across from a layout with over one thousand ft. of O gauge track.

Experienced modellers speculate on the building techniques used to make the clear lake in which you can see the weeds growing beneath the surface. See if you can spot the brown bear rearing on its hind legs in the middle of the island.

And see if you are better at finding the Museums, in the middle of Granville Island, in the heart of Vancouver, B. C., than I am.

I was so excited about my find that I phoned a friend to tell him about it. It turns out that his wife had mentioned it to me months ago. Maybe I should give up my career as tour guide.

END

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(Head shot.)

«Go back To My `VANCOUVER' Page
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Send me a comment (and I will add it to my Guest Book), or correction, or just say, "Hi"!
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Thank you for visiting Lee's `MARITIME MUSEUM' Page.
Please come back and visit again!