Queen of Cowichan


Official No: 0370065
Place Built: Victoria
Builder: Yarrows Ltd.
Year Built: 1976
Vehicle Capacity: 362
Passenger Capacity: 1,466
Crew: 34
Overall Length: 139.29 m
Breadth: 27.13 m
Gross Tons: 6,551.18
Service Speed: 22 knots
Horsepower: 11,860

Up until the spring of 2008, the Queen of Cowichan was the main Route 2 (Horseshoe Bay - Departure Bay) vessel based out of Nanaimo. In March she was replaced by the new Coastal Renaissance and at least temporarily shuffled into "spare ship" status. The Cowichan is a C-class vessel with one almost identical sister, the Queen of Coquitlam and three others which share the same hull design: the Queen of Alberni , Queen of Oak Bay , and Queen of Surrey . On board the ferry features a cafeteria, snack bar, gift shop, arcade, children's play area, elevators, and plenty of open and sheltered outside deck space. The Queen of Cowichan is a double-ender ferry and loads cars from two levels. The lower car level also includes additional "gallery decks" on either side.


Launched in early 1976, the Queen of Cowichan was the second of the 5 C-class ferries built over 6 years for BC Ferries. At the time, these "superferries" provided a modern improvement to ferry travellers and a needed increase in fleetwide capacity. Built at a cost of just under $20 million, the C-class ferries were initially placed on the Tsawwassen - Swartz Bay route. However, most of the Cowichan's service life has been on the Horseshoe Bay - Nanaimo and Horseshoe Bay - Langdale (Sunshine Coast) routes. In late 2003 and early 2004, the Queen of Cowichan received and extensive $34 million midlife refit at Vancouver Shipyards. In addition to engine work and steel replacement, the ferry acquired a new evacuation system and a complete overhaul of passenger accommodations.


1975 - October - Keel laid at Yarrows Shipyard in Victoria.
1976 - February - Queen of Cowichan is launched.
1985 - August 12 - The Queen of Cowichan collided with a small pleasure craft near Horseshoe Bay. Three people on the smaller vessel were killed.
1995 - September 21 - An accident resulting in some injuries occurred on the Queen of Cowichan's escalators as she neared Langdale ferry terminal. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) issued a report on the incident: Report Number M95W0145 . The accident was significant as it resulted in the Cowichan being transferred to the Horseshoe Bay - Departure Bay route where disembarking passengers would not be required to use the escalators. The escalators were later removed.
2001 - September 6 - The crew on board the Queen of Cowichan rescued two boaters whose boat had caught fire in Georgia Strait.
2003-2004 - Winter - Spring - The Queen of Cowichan was the second of the 5 C-class vessels to undergo an extensive $34 million mid-life refit with the objective of extending her service life for an additional 20 years.

Origin of Name

Queen of Cowichan - Named after the bay, river, lake, valley, or region of Cowichan on Vancouver Island. There is also a Cowichan First Nation and a city of North Cowichan in the same area. The Cowichan Valley is an important agricultrual area on the Island and also provides excellent opportunities for fishing, logging, and tourism. The towns of Duncan, Lake Cowichan, and Chemainus are the main population centers in the region. Cowichan Lake is the second largest lake on Vancouver Island. The Cowichan First Nation is the largest First Nation group in British Columbia. The name comes from the Native word "Quw'utsum', which means "warmed by the sun". ("Cowichan First Nation, Cowichan River" - Encyclopedia of British Columbia )

For Further Reading

Bannerman, Gary and Patricia. The Ships of British Columbia . Surrey: Hancock House Publishers, 1985.

About This Site - Contact: - Last updated on February 7, 2008

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