Queen of Tsawwassen
Launched November 28, 1959, the Queen of Tsawwassen was one of the original BC Ferries. Her sister ship , the Queen of Sidney, which was launched less than 2 months earlier was retired from the fleet in November 2000. Both ships were designed by Phillip F. Spaulding and much of their design is taken from that of Black Ball's Coho, the difference being that the BC Ferries ships are much more simple to load and unload with bow and stern doors. The Queen of Tsawwassen's last summer was spent operating on the Earls Cove and Saltery Bay route on the Sunshine Coast. In recent years she has also filled in numerous times as a relief vessel on the Powell River to Comox route and the Tsawwassen to Southern Gulf Islands route.
Once the modern fast ferry to Vancouver Island, the old Queen has given way to much larger, more accommodating, and faster ships. Even still, the Tsawwassen has many of the amenities on board the other vessels including a cafeteria, gift shop, lots of lounge space, and elevator access. After years of speculation that the Queen of Tsawwassen's retirement was imminent, a news release by BC Ferries in early 2008 confirmed that she was for sale and would likely not be part of the fleet after the summer. The Queen of Tsawwassen will be replaced by the newly built and much more utilitarian Island Sky.
Official No: 0312277
Place Built: Vancouver
Builder: Burrard Dry Dock
Year Built: 1960
Vehicle Capacity: 128
Passenger Capacity: 640
Overall Length: 102.51 m
Breadth: 22.62 m
Gross Tons: 3,127
Service Speed: 17 knots
Built in 1959 at a cost of just over $3 million, the M.V. Tsawwassen was one of two ships built for the purpose of launching the provincial government's new British Columbia Ferry Authority's service to Vancouver Island. Her inaugural voyage took place on a rainy June 15, 1960, between the newly built terminals at Tsawwassen (Vancouver) and Swartz Bay (Victoria). In the early years, the ferry underwent some major modifications. Within a year, due to popular demand, a prefabricated extension was added to the top deck of the Tsawwassen to allow for an additional dining room. In 1963, the Tsawwassen received a name change; she was renamed Queen of Tsawwassen. In 1971, the Queen of Tsawwassen had platform decks installed on the car deck to increase vehicle capacity by 32 automobiles.
The Queen of Tsawwassen has operated on numerous routes during her 48 years with BC Ferries. She commenced operations on the Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay route in 1960. Later she was moved to provide service on BC Ferries new major route between Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver) and Departure Bay (Nanaimo). In the 1980's she was the main summer ferry between Swartz Bay and the Gulf Islands. In the mid-1990's, the Queen of Tsawwassen moved north to operate as the summer boat on the Sunshine Coast between Earls Cove and Saltery Bay. In the winter months when she was replaced by the Queen of Chilliwack the Tsawwassen has been taken out of service or filled in for either the Queen of Nanaimo or Queen of Burnaby on the Tsawwassen - Southern Gulf Islands route or Comox-Powell River route.
On September 27, 2008, the Queen of Tsawwassen was officially decommissioned at Deas Pacific Marine Inc. in Richmond. She has been sold for use as a logging camp on the coast.
1959 - November 28 - Launched from Burrard Drydock in North Vancouver.
1960 - June 15 - The Tsawwassen makes her inaugural run from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay.
1961? - A new dining room is installed at the stern end of the upper car deck. This space is now a lounge.
1963 - The Tsawwassen is renamed Queen of Tsawwassen.
1973 - The Queen of Tsawwassen receives platform decks to accommodate more cars.
2008 - January - BC Ferries announces that the Queen of Tsawwassen is for sale.
Origin of Name
Queen of Tsawwassen - Tsawwassen is a suburb community of Vancouver, located in the southwest corner of Metro Vancouver. The town is mostly residential and agricultural, but is home to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal and the Roberts Bank Superport. Tsawwassen is also a neighbour to the small isolated American community of Point Roberts, WA. The suburb is home to the Tsawwassen First Nation of Coast Salish origin. It is from their language that the word "Tsawwassen" comes from. It means "looking toward the sea."
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.