Did you know that a car ferry once ran between Steveston and Sidney, BC on Vancouver Island? The MV Motor Princess, built by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company in 1923, was the first purpose-built automobile ferry in North America.
The Motor Princess served the Steveston-Sidney route between 1929-1950, with Sunday evening service from Gulf Islands to Vancouver. In 1929 a ferry slip is built for it at the foot of Seventh Avenue, and the BC Electric tram provided connection service with the ferry. The ship’s turntable for loading vehicles is repurposed from a former Steveston railway turntable. It ran only in the summer months until Labour Day.
Visit the Seine Net Loft at Britannia Shipyards NHS to see the temporary exhibit (open until end of November 2023) and view a selection of CPR artifacts and ephemera courtesy of Gordon Kibble, local maritime and CPR Steamships historian and collector. Learn about the MV Motor Princess in Steveston, and imagine what it would have been like to travel aboard the ferry, and explore the history of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s global network of steamships.
Canadian Pacific Steamships and BC Coast Steamship Service:
- Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection, UBC Library (contains extensive archival documents, images and objects related to C.P.R.)
- GG Archives – Canadian Pacific Line History and Ephemera
M.V. Motor Princess:
- “1923: The Motor Princess” article
- City of Richmond Archives – “Ferries” Reference File (available by appointment):
- Books – available at public libraries: “The Galloping Dishpan! – M.V. Motor Princess”, in Personality Ships of British Columbia by Ruth Greene, Marine Tapestry Publications, 1969; The E.J. Hughes Book of Boats by Robert Amos, 2020