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Event type: In-person
Time and Date: 7pm, Tuesday, March 12 (6:30pm Doors Open)
Location: Rotary Gallery of the Courtenay and District Museum
Speaker: Ian Kennedy
Tickets: $5 for Historical Society members; $6 for general public. Advance tickets recommended. Tickets can be purchased over the phone by calling 250-334-0686 ext 2.

Kennedy’s talk, based on the book of the same title, tells the story of the BC built ship, the Princess Maquinna that sailed up and down the west cost of Vancouver Island for nearly forty years from 1913 until 1952.

Princess Maquinna, sometimes referred to as the “Ugly Princess” but most often “Old Faithful,” transported Indigenous people, settlers, missionaries, loggers, cannery workers, prospectors and travellers of all kinds up and down Vancouver Island’s rugged and dangerous west coast, stopping at up to forty ports of call on her seven-day run.

The Maquinna faithfully served as the lifeline for all those who lived on the west coast of Vancouver Island before it became accessible by roads. Because of this strong connection she became the “Best Loved Boat” in BC’s maritime history.

The people on the west coast relied on the Maquinna for their supplies, medical needs, food, mail, newspapers, liquor and transportation in and out of their communities. Weddings were timed to the ship’s schedule; women took her to hospitals in Port Alberni or Victoria for the births of their children, and tourists flocked to buy tickets to cruise on her in the summers. She made three, 1500 km. long, trips a month from Victoria to Holberg, near the top of the Island, and back, stopping at over thirty ports, some of which had no wharves.

In his book Kennedy recounts battles through eighty-knot gales along the exposed coastline sailors called “The Graveyard of the Pacific,” and reveals the bigotry that forced Indigenous and Chinese passengers to remain on the foredeck of the ship while other passengers sheltered from the elements inside. He brings the history of this beloved ship to life with rich detail, recalling a time when this remote part of British Columbia was alive with mines, canneries and now-forgotten settlements.

Copies of The Best Loved Boat (Harbour Publishing) will be available for purchase ($35 cash or cheque only) and signing after the talk.

Ian Kennedy is the author of several books about BC history including 2010’s The Life and Times of Joseph McPhee, Courtenay’s Founding Father and co-author of Tofino and Clayoquot Sound: A History with Margaret Horsfield published in 2014.

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