The Beaver: First Steamship on the West Coast
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
Contributor to newspapers and magazines in Canada, Britain and United States on travel- and transportation themes.
Author: Empress of Britain: Canadian Pacific's greatest ship (Erin: Boston Mills, 1992).
Reviewer for CBRA since 1993.
The Beaver holds an honored name in Canadian maritime history, although
her fame is greater on the West Coast than elsewhere. Built in England,
the 101-foot-long paddle-wheel steamship reached the Pacific Northwest
in 1836 to start a chequered 52-year career. After about 20 years on the
B.C. coast as the Hudson’s Bay Company’s traveling fur-trading post,
the Beaver was chartered by the Royal Navy as a survey vessel; she spent
seven years nosing her way into remote inlets, where her crew prepared
charts to aid succeeding generation of seafarers.
Sold by the Hudson’s Bay Company to become a towboat, the Beaver
spent her last years performing a humble but essential role in and
around Vancouver until she ran aground in 1888 and became a total loss.
Souvenir hunters and salvagers, to say nothing of the forces of nature,
have removed much of her equipment and fittings, but a modest amount
still remains on the ocean floor.
James Delgado, director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum, has put
together a short but workmanlike and well-documented book on the Beaver
and her varied accomplishments. His text is informative and the many
photographs and drawings have been carefully chosen. The book is a
fitting memorial to British Columbia’s pioneer steamship.