VIEW-2945 | C.P.R. S.S. "Empress of Japan", Vancouver, BC, about 1891

C.P.R. S.S. "Empress of Japan", Vancouver, BC, about 1891
Mayo & Weed
1885-1915, 19th century or 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  boat (1192) , harbour (624) , Photograph (77678) , Transportation (2517)
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Keys to History

The CPR had ambitions that stretched beyond Canada. It wanted to capture the passenger and the luxury goods traffic between Britain and the Pacific countries. When it won the contract to carry the Royal Mail from Asia to Britain, it built three fast ships: the Empresses of India, China and Japan. These carried mail, passengers and valuable cargo such as silk and tea. A new Empress of Japan began service in 1930, but the entire line was withdrawn when the war in the Pacific began in December 1941. Other Empress ships sailed between Canada and Britain. One of the greatest maritime disasters in Canadian history occurred in 1914, when the Empress of Ireland was sunk in a collision in the St. Lawrence River, with a loss of over 1,000 lives.

Source : Forging the National Dream [Web tour], by William R. Morrison, University of Northern British Columbia (see Links)

  • What

    This is the CPR steamship the Empress of Japan.

  • Where

    The ship was photographed in Vancouver harbour.

  • When

    The ship was launched in Barrow, UK, in December 1890. The picture must have been taken sometime within the next year.

  • Who

    The pride of the fleet, the ship held the trans-Pacific speed record for 22 years. By the time she was retired in 1922, she had crossed the Pacific 315 times and had steamed over four million kilometres.