Arctic Workhorse: The RCMP Schooner «St. Roch». Rev. ed.
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography
Gordon Turner is the author of Empress of Britain: Canadian Pacific’s
Greatest Ship and the editor of SeaFare, a quarterly newsletter on sea
Fifty years have passed since a Canadian icon, the schooner St. Roch,
made her final voyage. Now housed in her own building adjacent to the
Vancouver Maritime Museum, and in need of funds to ensure her
preservation, the sturdy little wooden-hulled vessel spent more than 20
years in the service of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, asserting
Canada’s claims of sovereignty in the Arctic and bringing supplies,
services, and the law to Canada’s most remote communities. Under her
most famous skipper, Henry Larsen, she became the first ship to complete
the historic Northwest Passage from west to east between 1940 and 1942.
Her return voyage took only 86 days.
Arctic Workhorse is a short, well-written, and carefully researched
account of the life and work of this remarkable vessel. It brings to
life the characteristics of the St. Roch (“the most uncomfortable ship
I have ever been in,” according to Larsen), the consummate seamanship
of her best-known master, and the many achievements of her voyages. The
book contains numerous photographs—many but not all well
reproduced—in addition to diagrams of the ship and maps. It should be
noted, however, that Arctic Workhorse is a revised edition of Dauntless
St. Roch, published in 1992. Additional material includes an account of
an RCMP catamaran that in 2000 duplicated the St. Roch’s celebrated
1940–42 voyage, but taking less than three and a half months to do so.