Queen of Burnaby
Official No: 0322978
Place Built: Victoria, BC
Builder: Victoria Machinery Depot.
Year Built: 1965
Date Launched:February, 1965
Overall Length: 129.9 m
Breadth: 23.2 m
Gross Tons: 4,902.59
Service Speed: 16.5 knots
If you have been on the Queen of Burnaby recently, you were probably travelling between Comox (Little River) and Powell River. The ferry has operated on this route since rejoining BC Ferries in 2001. The Queen of Burnaby has an interesting story behind her, having been owned by 3 separate companies and having held 3 different names over her 42 year history. The Queen of Nanaimo is her only near-identical sister ship in the fleet today, although the Queen of New Westminster is sometimes put into the same class.
Based and crewed out of Comox, the Queen of Burnaby makes 4 round trips per day between Little River (a small community just east of Comox) and the Westview area of Powell River. The trip takes approximately 80 minutes and is mostly across the open waters of Georgia Strait. Inside the ferry are all the amenities that you would find on the larger vessels of the fleet. The Burnaby has a cafeteria (with a good original BC Ferries menu), a small gift shop, video arcade, and plenty of spacious seating areas with good views. The ferry has elevators to each level of the ship and is fully accessible to the disabled. Outside there is also plenty of deck space on both passenger decks to catch some fresh air.
A single car deck holds 192 cars, although this maximum can only be achieved by utilizing platform decks which are located along both sides of the center bulkhead. Below the car deck is the engine room where two Mirrlees diesel engines power the vessel with a combined 6000 horsepower. The ship is a single-ended vessel meaning there is only a bridge at one end. The ship docks bow-first at Comox and stern-first at Powell River.
The evacuation system on the Queen of Burnaby consists of evacuation stations on each side of the vessel. Unlike the traditional lifeboat, these stations slide the evacuees to water level where they would board inflatable life rafts.
The Queen of Burnaby was the 10th vessel built for BC Ferries and was the last built of her design. Only a few years later, platform decks were installed on the ferry's car deck to increase capacity. To further increase capacity, the Queen of Burnaby was cut in half in 1972 and a 25 meter midsection was added. At the same time, the passenger areas of the ferry were improved with new furnishings, a new restaurant, dining room, and newsstand, and an outdoor solarium on the upper passenger deck. This work was done at Burrard Drydock in North Vancouver.
* The Queen of Burnaby has undergone several modifications since being stretched.
For the first years of operation, the Queen of Burnaby sailed opposite her sister Queen of Nanaimo between Departure Bay (where she was based) and Horseshoe Bay.
Jump forward to 1994, when the Queen of Burnaby was "sold" to the Victoria Line. "Transferred" might be a better term to use, since the ferry left government-run BC Ferries and joined the Victoria Line, which was also government-operated. However, BC Ferries did receive $3.5 million for the ferry and the Queen got a $4.7 million refit and a new name: Royal Victorian. The refurbished ferry, furnished with a new buffet restaurant, licenced lounge, duty free shop, gift shop, and outdoor beer garden, restarted car-ferry service between Victoria and Seattle. The car ferry link between Victoria and Seattle had stopped in 1990. The Victoria Line couldn't make it either. Over three years, the crown corporation lost $8.4 dollars.
An interesting sidebar story related to the sale of the Queen of Burnaby was reported in several newspaper articles of the day. A controversy erupted when the Victoria Line held a contest to rename the vessel. The mayor and city of Burnaby protested the loss of "their ferry" and demanded that the ferry's new name included the name of their city.
In 1997, the money-losing Victoria Line leased the Royal Victorian to Clipper Navigation, which continued to operate the ferry on the same route. With this transfer, the ex-Queen of Burnaby received a new paintjob and yet another name. This time she was named Princess Marguerite III; a vain attempt to draw on the history of the legendary Princess Marguerite II steamship that served on the same route for many years. Clipper Navigation operated the Princess Marguerite III until 1999 when, despite concessions by both the port of Seattle and the government of British Columbia to keep the operation afloat, they too gave up. In the end, the ferry was sold back to BC Ferries for $2.8 million dollars in 2000.
Since 2001, BC Ferries has run the Queen of Burnaby on the Comox - Powell River route. When out of service, she is usually replaced by the Queen of Tsawwassen. In one case in recent memory, the Queen of Burnaby did operate on the Duke Point - Tsawwassen route as an emergency replacement vessel.
Origin of Name Queen of Burnaby - Named after the City of Burnaby, British Columbia. The city is bordered on the west by Vancouver, the north by Burrard Inlet, the east by Coquitlam and New Westminster, and the south by the Fraser River. With a population of over 200,000, Burnaby is the third largest city in the province. The city was established in 1892 and named after Robert Burnaby, a local pioneer politician, and businessman who was one of the first to survey areas of present day Burnaby and New Westminster. Burnaby was one of the first suburbs of Vancouver and today is home to a diverse population and large shopping , industrial, and educational centers.
For Further Reading
Bannerman, Gary and Patricia. The Ships of British Columbia. Surrey: Hancock House Publishers, 1985.
Favelle, Peter. The Queens of British Columbia: a detailed account of the ships in the B.C. Ferry fleet. North Vancouver: Discovery Magazine, 1974.
Griffiths, Garth, and H.L. Cadieux. Dogwood Fleet. Nanaimo: Cadieux and Griffiths, 1967.