The S.S. Beaver ran aground at Prospect Point in 1888
Prospect Point Signal Station
July 27, 1923 until 1939, when the Lions Gate Bridge went up, there
was a Signal Station atop Prospect Point, the highest site in Stanley
Park, overlooking the entrance to Burrard Inlet. The station was
set up there to alert ships entering and leaving the harbour as
to tide conditions, wind, other vessels and so on. It was a substantial
two-storey building, and besides its workaday function also served
as a terrific viewing point for park visitors. When the bridge went
up the signal station went down. Now Daniel Frankel, who
runs the big concession (gift shop, restaurant, native carvings
sales, etc.) at the Point, intends to rebuild it. He has approval
from the Parks Board to erect a replica of the signal station at
the original location right on the point, and will make it an interpretive
centre for the park.
They get four million visitors a year at the Point, and this new
structure will increase the area from which those people can get
Daniel showed me a short video hed had made to show to the
Parks Board, and there are some wonderful filmed images, including
a big liner going through the Lions Gate before the bridge went
up. Projected opening date: 2007.
can read more about the project at the Prospect Point website.
To quote it in part: The Prospect Point Signal Station was
at the top of the bluff; the highest point in Stanley Park some
220 feet above sea level . . . Signals were passed between it and
the Prospect Point Lighthouse, situated on the rocks below. Today,
the site is remembered only through a series of terraces used as
lookouts by park visitors. Historically, this was one of the most
important buildings in Vancouver's history, as it was a conduit,
or entry point for all port shipping activity.
The web site also features a short item on S.S.
Beaver, the Hudsons Bay Company steamship, the first steamship
on the west coast of North America. The Beaver left England, where
she was built at Blackwall, in October 1835, got here in April 1836,
after a six-month voyage around the Horn. (No Panama Canal at the
time!) She was a rather sizeable vessel: 31 metres or 101 feet long,
with a crew of 26, and coming in at 190 tons. She became a very
familiar sight on the coast during much of the 19th century.
The Vancouver Maritime Museum informs us that, among her other
more prosaic tasks, the Beaver was chartered by the Royal
Navy for survey work of the BC coastline.
52 years of faithful service she ran aground at Prospect Point (which
was also known as Calamity Point at the time) on July 26, 1888.
The wreck, says the website
of the Maritime Museum became a popular Sunday picnic destination
for many Vancouverites, some of whom removed pieces for souvenirs.
Charles McCain removed about 500 kg of bronze and copper
fittings he later turned into memorabilia such as coins, key chains
and jewelry. The ships boiler and paddlewheel shafts were
salvaged and the hull finally broke apart in 1892. The wreck site
is currently used to train divers in underwater archaeology techniques.
The Vancouver Maritime Museum has an exhibit featuring Beavers
anchor, paddlewheel shaft, and boiler.
The Museums director, James Delgado,
wrote a book on the vessel: The Beaver: First Steamship on the
West Coast. (Horsdal and Schubart Publishing Ltd. 1993.
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