The Surprise first plied west-coast waters in early 1858, as a miner-transport from Victoria to the Fraser River.1 This side-wheel steamer made almost thirty trips, with 500-600 miners aboard each time.2
According to one account, it made the run, against a six-knot current, from Fort Langley to Fort Hope in roughly twenty hours.3 It was purchased from New York in 1852 by Captain Edgar Wakeman, who had a rather uncomfortable four-month journey to the west coast.4 Following its time in the Salish Sea, it worked for a short time in San Francisco until it sailed for China, where it ended its days.5
This vessel is not to be confused with a second Surprise, a trade and sealing schooner built in Puget Sound in 1859, which wrecked off Sooke Harbour in 1874, on a reef to bear later its namesake.6
  • 1. E. W. Wright, ed., Lewis & Dryden's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (Portland: The Lewis & Dryden Printing Company, 1895), 72.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. G. P. V. Akrigg and H. B. Akrigg, British Columbia Chronicle, 1847-1871 (Victoria: Discovery Press, 1977), 120.
  • 4. Wright, Lewis & Dryden's Marine History, 72.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Andrew Scott, The Encyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names (Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2009), 575.
Mentions of this vessel in the documents