Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Legacy of the St. Roch

On July 22, the St. Roch left Halifax to return to Vancouver. The St. Roch is a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Schooner, the first ship to completely circumnavigate North America and the first vessel to complete the Northwest passage west to east. She took the same route that the Amundsen designed Goja had taken east to west, 38 years earlier.

Designed by Tom Hallidie and based on Roald Amundsen's ship the Maud. The St. Roch is made primarily of thick Douglas fir with Australian "ironbark" eucalyptus on the outside. The interior hull is reinforced with heavy beams in order to withstand pressure from the ice during her Arctic duties. She was designed with a unique shaped hull, which was crafted to push the St. Roch upwards in order to save being crushed by the ice when trapped.
Gordon F. Sedawie from the Province Newspaper took this photo of the St.Roch anchored in the harbour at the foot of Gore Street.

Same credits as above. Both photos were taken on March 6, 1956
Same information as the previous two.
This photo is of the St. Roch docked and cleaned in 1958. It was taken by William Cunningham for the Province Newspaper.

The St. Roch was built in North Vancouver at the Burrard Dry Dock and launched in April of 1928. Powered by sails and an auxiliary engine, she was built for RCMP operations in the Arctic. On June 23, 1940, the St. Roch was under the command of Sergeant Henry A. Larsen when she set sail for her historic journey through the Northwest Passage.

She took a treacherous southerly route through the Arctic Islands and ended up being trapped in ice for two winters. This delayed St. Roch's arrival in Halifax until October 11, 1942.

St. Roch returned to Vancouver in a journey that took 86 days. She took a northerly route through Lancaster Sound and Barrow Strait - making her the first vessel to negotiate the passage both ways. These exploits and a 1950 southern voyage, which made the schooner the first vessel to circumnavigate the North America, strengthened Canadian Arctic sovereignty.

The St. Roch near Lions Gate bridge as seen through the lens of Province newspaper's photographer, William Cunningham.
Same credits as above, both photos were taken in 1958.
This photo was taken on April 24, 1928 at the Burrard Dry Docks. Jack Cash captured this photo of the St. Roch under construction. I wonder about the dates since she was reportedly launched that month.
This is a 1928 photo of the lady in question. The photographer is unknown.

In 1954, the City of Vancouver purchased the St. Roch and she is now permanently berthed at the Vancouver Maritime Museum. The federal government designated the schooner a National Historic Site in 1962.

Thanks goes to The History of Metropolitan Vancouver website for inspiring this entry; the Vancouver Maritime Museum and Wikipedia for the information on the St. Roch and to the Vancouver Public Library historical photossection for the photos.
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Thank you for reading and I hope you find the beauty around you.

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