The wreck of the S.S. Beaver, Prospect Point, 1888

Wreck of the S. S. Beaver, unknown artist, c. 1892
painted on wood salvaged from the wreck.
Collection of the Vancouver Maritime Museum

The S.S. Beaver:
Length: 30.7 m (100.8′) Beam: 6.1 m (20′) Draft: 2.56 m (8.4′)
Tonnage: 190 t
Hull: wood – English and African oak
Armament: 4 brass cannons
Power source: twin sidelever engines rated at 35 hp each that drove two 13’ (3.9 m) diameter paddlewheels. Brigantine rigged sails.
Built: Blackwall, England, 1835

Beaver was a steamship built in England in 1835 for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). It sailed to Fort Vancouver (Vancouver, Washington) where the engine was assembled and paddlewheels mounted. On May 16, 1836, the steam engine was fired up for the first time. The HBC operated Beaver for 17 years.

Beaver was a floating trading post that opened up remote parts of the British Columbian coast for fur trading. When the Oregon Treaty was signed in 1846, establishing the boundary between the United States and Great Britain’s Canadian territories, Beaver’s homeport was relocated to Fort Victoria (Victoria). After 17 years, the Hudson’s Bay Company brought in a second, more powerful propeller steamship (Otter) and Beaver was used to transport passengers and cargo for a few years and then sat idle. It was then chartered by the Royal Navy under the command of Lt Daniel Pender and was used to chart the British Columbia coast from 1863 to 1870. It was sold to a consortium that became British Columbia Towing and Transportation Company in 1874 and towed barges, log booms and sailing vessels.

Beaver’s last trip was on July 25, 1888 when it ran aground on Prospect Point, Stanley Park in Burrard Inlet, Vancouver. The wreck became a popular Sunday picnic destination for many Vancouverites, often removing pieces for souvenirs.

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