BC Ferries; the provincial corporation that Vancouver Islanders, Gulf Islanders and Sunshine Coasters love to hate. No, that’s a lie; they just plain hate it and for good reason. I won’t even go into the reasons since we all know the reasons, though arrogant disdain comes to mind.
We generally try to avoid at all costs using the hideously overpriced service and happily pay the extra bucks to fly from our home to assorted destinations on the other side of the moat that holds us captive as our freedom of movement is held in check by a heedless provincial government.
If we do have to depart by water we try to avail ourselves of the quaint service of Blackball as exemplified in the venerable MV Coho, running from Victoria to Port Angeles WA. Love that little old ship. It reminds me of the earliest BC Ferries where providing transportation – basic transportation – was the credo that motivated old WAC Bennett when the corporation was started. In other words, it was designed to serve the public not the egos and bank accounts of the Ferries’ execs.
The Coho is a fundamental craft. Pretends to be nothing more. Basic seats, basic grub in a basic snackbar, heads for boys and girls and a lovely scenic trip across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and just wait for the long ocean rolls when you get to the middle.
Going back even further, I still fondly (and just barely) remember the old CPR ‘princesses’ that used to run from Vancouver (downtown) to Victoria, Nanaimo, the Sunshine Coast and yes, the dear old Princess Mary (pictured in a wonderful Hughes painting) used to run to Comox, as well as Hornby and Denman Islands. I first went to Hornby with my grandmother when I was a very little boy and we went via the Mary. Ultimately the superstructure of the Mary suffered something of an indignity by being turned into an eatery in Victoria that ran for a number of years.
The original 3-funnel Princesses were my favorites. I used to love going to Pier B-C in Vancouver and see them moored there like mini cruise ships. And sometimes we were lucky enough to travel on one. And if you wanted to see a hapless little kid pee his pants, then have him standing out on deck not anticipating the blowing of that huge whistle when the ship passed under the Lion’s Gate. The floodgates would open but the trip was still worth the soggy knickers.