Maritime Museum Exhibits CPR Steamers

Posted by Daniel on Jan 22, 2011

I've never been much of a believer in Golden Ages, figuring that one person's Golden Age is invariably someone else's Dark Age. So I take the title of the Vancouver Maritime Museum's current exhibit, The Golden Age of Steamship Travel, with a grain of salt. Golden for whom, one wonders, the immigrants crammed below decks, the stokers shovelling coal?

Still, I don't want to be cranky. The museum has mounted a handsome and fascinating exhibition (here) based on the donations of Doctors Wallace and Madeline Chung from their vast collection of CPR-related memorabilia, including posters like the one above, books, photographs and thousands of other artifacts.

The centrepiece of the display is a 1929 model of the CPR luxury liner Empress of Japan (II). Wallace Chung purchased the builder's model in 1998, then spent hundreds of hours restoring it before donating it to the VMM.

The CPR got into the trans-Pacific steamship business in 1887, initially using three chartered steamers formerly owned by the Cunard company. The first of the Empress liners, purpose-built for the Pacific run from Vancouver to Asian ports of call, was the Empress of India which began service in 1891. There were eight Pacific Empresses in all, no more than four operating at any one time. Elegant and speedy, they set the standard for luxury accommodation and fast, reliable service. The fleet did not resume service following World War II.

The exhibit continues at the Vancouver Maritime Museum until April 1.