SS Capilano Porthole
Object ID: 2014.78.1
The month of October, 1915, was marked by numerous wrecks along the coast of British Columbia. The SS Capilano was fighting heavy seas in the Gulf after leaving Vancouver, when she struck a hard submerged object at 9:25 pm on October 1, 1915. Being late September, a prime time of year for logging on the coast, a log was the suspected culprit, but minutes later a blast from the ship’s whistle indicated how close the ship had come to one of the nearby islands. Due to slash burning the visibility was poor from the thick sooty smoke from all the logging activity. It was later determined the Capilano had in fact struck a rock.
The captain, Samuel Nelson decided to have her checked for damage, and so turned the Capilano back towards Van Anda on Texada. Following an inspection by the captain and his crew the Capilano was judged to be seaworthy when no leaks were found. Believing they had miraculously avoided disaster, and that it had been a log and not a shallow rock, Capt. Nelson decided to continue their journey leaving Van Anda around 11:00 pm.
Around 1:30 am while struggling northward in deteriorating weather it was realized that the Capilano was listing heavily to port. Too late the crew recognized that the ship had indeed received a death blow. As water began rushing in the Capilano rolled heavily in the waves. At 3:00 am the 18 man crew abandoned ship in lifeboats. The SS Capilano sank in 130 feet of water off Savary Island on October 2nd, 2015. The crew made their way to Savary in the darkness and on to Powell River the following morning.
Richard McIntosh and fellow diver Bob Briggs (1938 - 2014) dived off of Savary Island in 1971 and found the remains of a vessel. Unsure of which vessel, a question was posed in the Vancouver Province. Response was sent to McIntosh and it was discovered that it was the Union Steamship Capilano. This porthole, dishes, and several other items were retrieved from the wreck and donated by Mr. McIntosh to the museum.
In Service: 1891-1915 (Union Steamships)
Official No.: 100203
Type : Steel screw freighter-passenger vessel. Hull prefabricated in sections by J. McArthur and Co., Glasgow. Launched from Union shipyard in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour in 1891. Assembled by Henry Darling
Dimensions: Length 120.0’, breadth 22.2’, depth 9.6’. Gross tons 231
Engines: Bow McLachlan & Co., Paisley, Scotland. Compound 28 RHP. Speed 10 knots maximum, 8 1/2 average.
Capacities: Passenger licence 25 but increased in 1987 when berths added for Alaskan service. Cargo capacity 300 tons
S.S. Capilano I
Capilano is the English translation of the Native family name Ky-Ap-Lan-Huh, meaning “of great chief.” Chief George Capilano (baptized George after embracing Christianity) escorted Captain Vancouver into Burrard Inlet with 40 war canoes on 15 June 1792. Chief Joe Capilano was received by King George VII. Three vessels with this proud name flew the Union flag between 1891 and 1959.