Chehalis Shipwreck Lower Mainland

The Chehalis was a tug commissioned for the Union Steamship Company.  The wooden hull was built by Colin McAlpine at False Creek, Vancouver, in 1897.  She was 59.3′ feet long by 13′ in breadth by 6.5′ feet deep in the hold.  She had four overnight berths and was certified to carry up to 15 passengers.

July 21, 1906, was a clear, sunny Saturday.  Early in the afternoon, the Chehalis set off on a three-week charter to norther Vancouver Island and Blunden Harbour.  She had eight passengers aboard, businessmen and their families who were combining a pleasure cruise with a look at potential investments upcoast.   There were also six crewman onboard.  She was bucking a fierce flood tide so Captain James House angles southwest across the harbour toward Brockton Point, planning to catch the back eddy which ran out through First Narrows along the Stanley Park shore.

Meanwhile, the Princess Victoria left the C.P.R. wharf downtown.  The ferry was 300′ long, almost 2000 tons gross, and capable of 21 knots.  Captain Griffen rang for full speed as she approached Brockton Point, passing inside Burnaby Shoal.  He later told newsmen:

As we came around the point, there was a gasoline launch on our port bow and the tug Chehalis on our starboard…..At this point the channel is so narrow that our only course was to steady our helm and go between the two craft.   I saw the tug swerve from her course and lay directly across the bows…..When we came within a boat length the tide seemed to veer the tug around and her port quarter struck our bow.   It rolled the vessel over and in a quart minute she went down……

For more information on the Chehalis and other shipwrecks of the lower mainland, go to: UASBC.Com. You can order the publication Historic Shipwrecks of the Lower Mainland from the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia publications.

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