Maritime Museum of BC
|Maritime Museum of BC|
|Location||Victoria, British Columbia|
The museum opened by naval officers in 1955 at Signal Hill in Esquimalt, B.C. later went through name changes, and the Maritime Museum of British Columbia Society that was registered in 1957 as a non-profit society would follow a broader Pacific coastal heritage mandate. The Maritime Museum moved in 1963-64 to 28 Bastion Square in downtown Victoria, British Columbia and was formally opened in June 1965. The corresponding Maritime Museum of British Columbia Foundation was established sixteen years later to develop long-term support for the Society.
In 1981 a separate group founded the CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum, which continues at Naden on Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt.
On September 23, 2014, the Maritime Museum began the process to lease space beside Victoria Harbour in the seismically upgraded former CPR Steamship Terminal, a space that until 2010 had been occupied by the Royal London Wax Museum. An option to lease was signed and negotiations began. The Maritime's Bastion Square venue closed October 21, 2014, after forty-nine years in the heritage courthouse building. No date for the planned reopening was announced at the time.
Collection and exhibits
At the Bastion Square location, three floors of exhibits covered early Pacific explorers, shipbuilding, coastal commerce and the related roles of the Hudson's Bay Company, Canadian Pacific, B.C. Ferries, the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy in provincial and local-areas history. One of the vessels in the museum's collection is the 1897 sailboat Dorothy, a small fantail cutter being restored and documented. She is part of a collection that includes the 1950s-vintage sailing dinghy Trekka and the Tilikum, the modified 30-foot cedar-log canoe sailed from Vancouver Island across the Pacific and on to London, England, by 1904. Shipped back to home port Victoria years later, she was restored and donated to the museum by members of the Thermopylae Club. An extensive collection of ship models includes a replica of the Hudson's Bay Company's 17th-century trading ship Nonsuch. The Maritime's research library and archival holdings include artworks, nautical charts, logbooks, corporate and private records, ship plans for more than 900 vessels and approximately 36,000 photographs.
Exhibits drawn from the 40,000-odd artifacts and documents will again be open to the public after transition to a redesigned space. Community outreach and programming continue during negotiations.
The museum had been housed in the 1889 provincial law courts building later listed as a National Historic Site of Canada. Designed by architect Otto Tiedemann, one of the designers of Fisgard Lighthouse, the building was structurally modified by Francis Rattenbury. The province's first Supreme Court on the third floor was once presided over by Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, Chief Justice of the Colony of British Columbia and, in time, of the new province of British Columbia. The room also served as the Vice-Admiralty Courtroom and, after a 1990s restoration, was periodically requested as supplemental space for the provincial justice system. The building's ornate elevator was installed in 1899 during architect Rattenbury's changes to the interior. Mentioned as the oldest operating birdcage elevator in North America, it appeared on a list of top ten elevator rides worldwide.
The Maritime Museum of BC is affiliated with the B.C. Museums Association, the Canadian Museums Association, the Virtual Museum of Canada and Canadian Heritage Information Network. The organization is under the patronage of the Hon. Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.
- Vancouver Maritime Museum, Vancouver, British Columbia
- List of historic places in Victoria, British Columbia
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- Holdings list at MemoryBC: The British Columbia Archival Information Network, retrieved 2011-05-21 here.
- Richard Watts, "Victoria's Maritime Museum is on the move," Times Colonist, 17 Oct 2014, retrieved 2014-10-19 here.
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- Former Victoria Law Courts. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
- Entry at "Maritime Museum of BC" in Daniel Francis, ed., Encyclopaedia of British Columbia (Madeira Park, B.C.: Harbour Publishing, 2000), ISBN 1-55017-200-X.
- "Begbie's courtroom yields clues under close cross-examination," Hallmark Society Newsletter 23, No. 4 (Winter 1996), pp. 8-9; WP article text, Matthew Baillie Begbie.
- "The Maritime Museum of BC: Bird Cage Elevator".
- "Top 10 - Elevator Rides", in Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Greatest Trips (National Geographic Society, 2007), ISBN 1-4262-0125-7, retrieved 2011-01-09; Richard Watts, "Maritime Museum's move leaves hole in Bastion Square," Times Colonist, 18 Oct 2014, retrieved 2014-10-18 here.
- List of organizations, retrieved 2015-04-05 here.
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