Riverview, New Brunswick
June 8, 2007
The Maritime Museum is particularly noticeable for the building in which it is housed. A handsome, Italianate design; it was once the Provincial Courthouse (1887) and while the building is attractive, it has an operating birdcage elevator (1889) and on the third floor, the Court of Vice Admiralty has been lovingly restored. But, I’m ahead of myself, so back to the first floor.
Your wander through this museum begins with a discussion of the native use of the sea and then the coming of the Europeans. In 1789, we find that the Spanish Viceroy established a fort at Nootka to stop incursions of Russians, Britons, and Americans… it resulted in agreements to share the west. Russia would claim rights to the West Coast for 126 years, but it would be the British who would move in during the 1850s and who would eventually move British Columbia into Confederation in 1871. The story is all a bit dry and is told in artefacts and what I tend to refer to now as "stuff to read." As I grow older, I grow less enamoured with "stuff to read," but if you need to know, then you need to know. There are also presentations on seal hunting which was limited in 1911, fishing and whaling and then there is a good story.
In 1901, John Voss and Norman Luxton decided to sail a canoe around the world. They found one abandoned on a beach and modified it, giving it a cabin and a mast. Naming it Tilikum, a native word meaning friendly; they sailed the 38 foot, 50 year old canoe across the Pacific to Australia then across the Indian Ocean to South Africa. From there, they sailed to Brazil and then to England…technically not really around the world, but an amazing voyage nevertheless. The Tilikum, if you haven’t guessed at this point, is the prized possession of the museum.
No western maritime museum would be complete without a gallery dedicated to Canadian Pacific Steamships, the British Columbia Coast service, and the Empress Service. And this is British Columbia, so there is another gallery devoted to "Bennett’s Navy"…BC Ferries. These galleries contain a number of the museum’s 400 ship models. Apart from that, the collection is fairly ordinary… there are representations of wartime vessels and working vessels…a model gallery for models that don’t seem to fit into a category. The collection is fairly extensive with no pretension of being world class. I would think that you would have to have some interest in Maritime history or ship models before you ventured through these doors. If you want to see if you would enjoy a visit, they have a great website at Maritime Museum.
From journal Adventures in Lotusland: Victoria