Janice Kidwell, BCGS Member
Sometime in the 1980s, (the photo album is apparently in a ‘safe place’ in my mom’s basement) my mother and grandmother were very excited as they were to about to embark on a seven day trip to Alaska. I drove them to Ballantyne Pier in Vancouver, which is where they would board the S.S. Prince George for what was to be a lovely relaxed trip ahead.
Once at the Pier and their luggage out of my car, we made our way to where they would check in. While they were in the line, they found out that there would be a delay in their departure time. They were then asked to join a group of other passengers and wait for directions to board and find their cabins. It was decided that they would be fine without me so I wished them a bon voyage, kisses and hugs all around, and off I went.
They eventually boarded the ship and settled into their cabin. My mom couldn’t remember if they had been offered anything to eat. With my grandmother’s English background, I’m sure they would have loved a cup of tea and some sweets. The S.S. Prince George was a lovely little ship with rich wooden panels and a large gleaming brass bell. The lounge had comfortable wicker chairs and several potted palms around. The dining room – below deck – had round windows all around and they could see the sea going up and down – not a good idea! Some passengers were sick and stayed in their cabins.
First stop was Ketchikan, Alaska where they walked around and purchased some souvenirs. Their next stop was to be north of there where they would see the beauty of the land, including icebergs, but due to engine trouble they went south to Prince Rupert where they stayed for a few days. My mom commented that Rupert was as nice as they had heard about from relatives and friends who had previously lived there for many years.
On their return journey home they ran into a heavy storm and all passengers were warned to stay inside. Captain Heater was at the helm during the storm and when a female passenger started singing “Nearer My God to Thee” my grandmother told my mother “not to be worried” as she knew the Captain when he was a boy (both families lived on Blanshard Street in Victoria) and
knew that he would get them home safely, which he did. They arrived back in Vancouver one day late but safe and sound with quite a story to tell. Of interest is that Captain Heater (I think Allan R.) came from a long line of Captains and Master Mariners with origins from Newfoundland.