Voyages on the Salish Sea – BC’s Themed Attraction

Bowen Queen
Bowen Ferries [click the title for the rest of this article… ]

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The first ferry is the 4:35 PM sailing of the Bowen Queen departing Horseshoe Bay for Bowen Island, yesterday.

The second ferry is the Queen of Capilano approaching its birth in Snug Cove, Bowen Island, some time last summer.

Both pictures are thumbs – click them to see the enlargement.

The Queen of Capilano is the larger ferry that normally serves this run, but it is currently off being refitted. I don’t recall the Bowen Queen as ever providing the regular service to this island, in spite of its name. When I moved here, the ferry we used was the Howe Sound Queen. That Quebec-built ferry is still in service, but we haven’t seen it here for years.

There was a full load of cars on that 4:35 sailing, and since I was not able to board, I could take that picture.

A trip on one of these vessels is a voyage into a world of incredible beauty — regardless of the weather. I love the separation that is a part of island-life, and I never tire of these slow trips across Howe Sound.

I have watched as BC Ferries has spent millions of dollars rebuilding the ferry marshaling sites, roads, ramps, births, toll booths and visitor waiting rooms. I understand that the service is regulated for safety by Transport Canada, and that it is a union environment. What I don’t understand is why the facilities and services are both designed and operated in a manner that reminds me of a bus terminal in a grimy part of a sleazy city.

British Columbia was the proud site of Expo 86. One of the unusual legacies of that Fair was that the designers, architects, producers, imagineers, craftspeople, artists and storytellers of this region who created that event have gone on to develop fabulous themed attractions around the world. They are easy to find: they founded the Themed Attraction Association of Canada, which has its office in Vancouver.

If the BC Ferry trips were seen as more than just transportation, but as one of the world’s outstanding attractions, our ferry ships and terminals could be vital and happy places that would welcome all those who’d be pleased to make the Salish Sea a valued destination. I believe that this requires the leadership and vision to put the appropriate policies in place — not more money.

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2 Responses to “Voyages on the Salish Sea – BC’s Themed Attraction”


  1. 1 alixtaggart@hotmail.com June 10, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Love your pictures! Spent my early childhood at our wonderful cottage on Bowen! At that time the ferry was called The Bowen Queen ~ sadly we left Bowen in ’67..

  2. 2 Robert June 10, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Hi Alix, thanks for commenting.

    It is interesting that you remember the ferry being The Bowen Queen. She was built in 1965, so she must have been assigned to the Bowen route. As you can see here, The Bowen Queen is still used on this run when the Queen of Capilano is not available.

    When I first came here, in 1990, the regular ferry was the Howe Sound Queen. At another site I read, “She was previously named Napoleon L. and operated in Quebec until 1971. She was purchased by B.C. Ferries that year for $350,000. Upon arrival on the coast, the Howe Sound Queen underwent a $250,000 refit and was then placed on the Bowen Island – Hoseshoe Bay route. On that route she was affectionately (or not) nicknamed the “Hound” for her lack of amenities and poor handling of heavy seas. The Howe Sound Queen now operates mainly between Vesuvius on Saltspring Island and Crofton on Vancouver Island. In 2007 and 2008 the ferry underwent a major refit that focused on extending her service life and improving passenger amenities.” More at this URL:
    howesoundqueen.html


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