Official No: 0322969
Place Built: Victoria, BC
Builder: Victoria Machinery Depot
Year Built: 1964
Vehicles: 30
Passengers: 244
Crew: 6-8
Length: 47.09 m
Breadth: 13.29 m
Gross Tons: 651
Service Speed: 12 knots
Horsepower: 1,700


The Tenaka one of BC Ferries many minor vessels. Built as the Comox Queen in 1964, the ferry can hold 30 cars and 244 passengers. Today she operates on the scenic Heriot Bay (Quadra Island) - Whaletown (Cortes Island) route. Her raised bow enables her to handle the sometimes rough seas as she crosses Sutil Channel between the two islands. Based at Whaletown, the Tenaka makes 6 round trips per day.


Since 1994, the Tenaka has been based out of Whaletown, Cortes Island making 6 daily round trips to Heriot Bay, Quadra Island. Though a small ferry, the Tenaka has three passenger lounges: two on either side of the over-height lane and a larger one above. Inside, the ferry has washrooms and a vending machine. Outside, there are two levels of open passenger space facing the rear of the ship.

The Tenaka is pushed by two propellers powered by two main Caterpillar engines. For emergencies, the ferry is equipped with life rafts lowered by davits on the upper passenger deck. There is also a rescue boat near the stern on the outside area of the lower starboard passenger deck.


The Tenaka was built in 1964 as the Comox Queen for the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Highways. Considering the name of the ferry, it is likely that she was intended for the Ministry's new Westview (Powell River) - Little River (Comox) route although the first trip on that route was not made until March 25, 1965. In only a few years, the route outgrew the Comox Queen and beginning in 1969 the Ministry had to borrow the BC Ferry Queen of the Islands to assist with summer traffic (Clapp, 61). In 1976, the Ministry replaced the Comox Queen with the much larger, newly acquired Sechelt Queen .

In 1977, the Comox Queen was re-engined and renamed Tenaka . Beginning in 1979, the Tenaka took over as the main vessel on the Port McNeill - Sointula - Alert Bay route, replacing the smaller Nimpkish , which had become too small to handle the increasing traffic.

In 1985 the Tenaka , along with all of the Ministry of Transportation and Highways coastal assets, were transferred to BC Ferries. With BC Ferries, the ferry was used on a number of different routes, including Swartz Bay to the Southern Gulf Islands.

In 1994, the Tenaka again replaced the Nimpkish , this time on the Heriot Bay (Quadra Island) - Whaletown (Cortes Island) route. BC Ferries had to rebuild the dock on Cortes Island to accommodate the Tenaka , and the ship began service on the route in time for the Victoria Day long weekend. Ironically, when the Tenaka needs to be replaced, it is usually the Nimpkish that takes her place.

Origin of Name

Tenaka - One of the more oddly named ferries, the word Tenaka comes from the name of a river in the north-east part of the province (Peace River region). (Clapp, 79).

For Further Reading

Clapp, Frank. Ministry of Transportation and Highways: Inland and Coastal Ferries. Victoria: Province of British Columbia, 1981. Also 1978 and 1991 editions.

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