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The Lady Rose

November 15th, 2018
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Many longtime Vancouver Island residents who have spent time on the West Coast of
the island will remember the Lady Rose, a small, charming steamship that for decades
served many communities along that coast. At 104.8 feet long and 14.3 feet deep, with
a 21.2 foot beam, the Lady Rose was the smallest ship ever to be commissioned from
the Union Steamship Company of British Columbia. Notwithstanding her small size, she
was a hardy little vessel, one that lasted many years carrying out vital runs to West
Coast communities, and she even braved some very open waters.
Built in 1937 in Glasgow, at A. & J. Inglis, the Lady Rose was constructed to serve West
Coast camps and communities in the Barkley Sound and the Alberni Inlet. Originally
named the Lady Sylvia, this little ship could carry 130 passengers in the summer, and
70 in the winter time, along with cargo weighing up to 25 tons. Her diesel engines,
constructed by the English firm the National Gas and Oil Company, were 220
horsepower and had a 28 horsepower reserve unit. Designed to be used in British
Columbia’s sheltered coastal waters, the Lady Rose was nevertheless the first diesel-
powered ship with a single propeller to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1951, the Lady Rose was sold to the Harbour Navigation Company, and she was
operated by Lady Rose Marine Services as a crucial cargo service to Bamfield up until
the start of the 21st century. Sadly, the Lady Rose is no longer in operation. She retired
in 2011, and since 2012 she has been in Tofino, at Jamie’s Whaling Station, awaiting
restoration.

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