Princess Royal, 1854-1872
Princess Royal was a Hudson's Bay Company ship, built upon recommendations by Simpson, who saw trade opportunity in spars from Fort Rupert, and a chance to build a boat that could enter Victoria harbour, fully loaded, unlike its predecessor, the Norman Morison.1
Simpson's new ship was built of oak and teak, and was copper-bottomed, 44 m long and 9 m wide, and it was scheduled to sail to Victoria in May of 1854, but due to delays, it left from England in June, with more than 100 passengers aboard.2 The journey is a snapshot of the arduous nature of such extended sea voyages of the era: babies were born or died along the way, there was a mild mutiny in protest of the meager rice rations, and many more died of illness.3 Princess Royal finally landed, in Nanaimo, in late November.4
It met its fate near Moose Factory, James Bay, when it sailed into a snowstorm and, eventually, grounded on a bar.5 Apparently, some Cree men in the area went on board the hulk to salvage tar-filled barrels to use as canoe sealant, but it was too cold to drain the barrels, so the men lit a fire, which spread to engulf the ship.6 The pack ice carried its burned skeleton to the sea the next Spring.7
  • 1. Barrie H. E. Goult, First and Last Days of the 'Princess Royal,' British Columbia Historical Quarterly 1 (1939): 15-16.
  • 2. Ibid., 16.
  • 3. Ibid., 17-19.
  • 4. Ibid., 20.
  • 5. Ibid., 22.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Ibid., 23.
Mentions of this vessel in the documents