By Daniel

Vancouver has a unique past, as does every place in Canada, but at first glance it may look like Vancouver’s heritage is not remarkable. As a matter of fact, one of the most important ships in Canada, the RCMP Schooner St. Roch, has very strong ties to Vancouver. This superlative ship was built here in Vancouver in 1928, and was a prominent vessel in the Northwest Passage and the search for it. The Northwest Passage was a supposedly more affordable route to the East that reportedly went through the Canadian Arctic. Spurred on by bureaucrats, tycoons, and expansionist citizens of the British Empire, the search for a Northwest Passage would become one of the most complicated and tragic odysseys in all of history and our nation’s past, and encompassed several centuries. In the last years of the search for the Passage, the early decades of the 20th century, the Northwest Passage was in arm’s reach, and the Canadian Government, adamant on maintaining sovereignty over the Arctic, dispatched the RCMP Schooner St. Roch, to use the Northwest Passage. Led by Norwegian police captain Henry Larsen, their expedition to use the Passage began in 1940 and ended in 1942, with the Northwest Passage being conquered by them. In the later years, the St. Roch would accomplish a variety of feats, including circumnavigating the entire continent of North America using both the Panama Canal and the Northwest Passage. After it was retired in the 1950s, the schooner was restored and moved into the Vancouver Maritime Museum, where one can tour it, and it has been designated as a Historic Site. It is interesting that this ship, built right here, was such an important part of this country.


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