Welcome Aboard!

You are about to spend a day much as you might have done over 70 years ago, when the Lady Rose was a baby and the principal means of transportation along the B.C. coast was by ships and crew similar to the Lady Rose and today's  Frances Barkley. The Frances Barkley emulates the slower pace of life of yesteryear and while aboard you'll have plenty of time to look for wildlife and enjoy the scenery as well as make the acquaintance of your fellow passengers.
You are invited to share your experiences with the ship's crew when they are not engaged in landing at a wharf of float, or loading/unloading freight. They will be pleased to answer your questions and provide assistance. 
So bring your binoculars, your camera (don't forget extra batteries and media cards), a warm jacket and casual clothes (you're going aboard a working packet freighter) and thoroughly enjoy your day!

For more information and photos, check us out on our Facebook page.

The M.V. Lady Rose has been retired.

After 70 years of service on the B.C. coast, the venerable M.V. Lady Rose has been retired.  Notice of her retirement is no doubt disappointing to some of our customers.  However, we assure all of our customers that the company, Lady Rose Marine Services, remains in business and will continue to provide scheduled service with the M.V. Frances Barkley to points of call along the Alberni Inlet and in Barkley Sound.  This includes all day trip excursions and connections to Bamfield, Ucluelet, the Broken Group Islands and Sechart Lodge.  Please see our rates and schedule page for more details.  We are leaving the story of the Lady Rose below, as many who rode aboard her decks in years past have fond memories of those journeys.  In addition, we have a number of customers who remain interested in reading the information about the history of this wonderful little ship.

M.V. Lady Rose.....
.....A Heritage Vessel
The M.V. Lady Rose

The M.V. Lady Rose, originally christened "Lady Sylvia" at her 1937 launching, was built by A & J Inglis Limited of Pointhouse Shipyard in Glasgow, Scotland, and was designed by W.D. McLaren of Vancouver.
Although not the last vessel acquired by the Union Steamship Company, she was the last commissioned to be built for them. Her specifications are 105 foot length, 22 foot beam and 7 foot draft. Her 199 gross tones were powered by one 220 b.h.p. National diesel four-stroke motor with an auxiliary 28 b.h.p. Russell Newberry for driving the dynamo, air compressor and pumps. Today, she operates on a 385 horse power 6 cylinder Caterpillar engine, running at 850 r.p.m. producing a service speed of 11 knots and burning 12 gallons of diesel per hour. The Lady Rose can carry up to 100 passengers and 25 tons of cargo.
Designed for the sheltered coastal waters of British Columbia, this stocky little vessel soon proved capable of much more, becoming the first diesel powered vessel to cross the Atlantic driven by a single propeller.
The trans-Atlantic journey that began May 7th 1937 was no small feat. Beleaguered by storms and battered by waves that lifted her propeller clear of the water, the Lady Sylvia was frequently shaken from stem to stern.  Skippered by Captain William E. Smales of Leeds, who affectionately became know as "Old make it or bust," she arrived at her destination nine weeks later having traveled 9,800 miles with only three stops for food and fuel.  The final entry in her log tells all, "Sunday, 11th July, 5:30 a.m. Vancouver -- thank God!"  Shortly after arrival, she was renamed "Lady Rose" to avoid a registry duplication and was placed on the West Howe Sound run from Vancouver to Gibsons, Port Mellon and way points.
In 1942, the Lady Rose became one of a small fleet of vessels operated by the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps and was assigned to carry army and air force personnel, as well as food and mail, between Port Alberni and Ucluelet. She was reconditioned and returned to the Union Steamship Co. and the Howe Sound service in 1946. With the post war period came the need for larger vessels to handle the increase in business and in 1951 the Lady Rose was sold to Harbour Navigation Co. Ltd. of Vancouver for local use.
In 1954, she was chartered by Coast Ferries Ltd. and operated between the Gulf Islands and Steveston on the Fraser River. Later that decade she was sent to the north end of Vancouver Island and finally, in 1960, returned to Port Alberni under lease to Captains Dick McMinn and John Monrufet and their newly acquired company, Alberni Marine Transportation, Ltd. They purchased the ship in 1969 and operated the freight, passenger and mail service from Port Alberni to Bamfield and Ucluelet until their retirement in 1979 when the Lady Rose was sold to Diversified Holdings Ltd. of Victoria.
In 1982, Captain Brooke George, along with two (now former) partners, was ready to take on ownership and operation of the Lady Rose and Alberni Marine Transportation. In 1997 Roland Smith joined Brooke as a part owner of the company which is now known as Lady Rose Marine Services.  In the spring of 2008, Mike and Pauline Surrell assumed ownership of the company from Roland Smith and Karen George, widow of the late Brooke George. 

M.V. Frances Barkley.....
.....Continuing Maritime History
The M.V. Frances Barkley
The M.V. Frances Barkley was built in 1958 and launched on November 7 as the M/S Rennesoy in Stavanger, Norway. Later renamed the M/S Hidle, she was commissioned to be used in the Norwegian ferry fleet operating out of Stavanger.
Specifications for the Frances Barkley are an overall length of 128 feet, a beam of 24 feet and a draft of 9.5 feet. She is powered by a 400 horse power 8 cylinder Bergen Diesel which turns at 450 r.p.m. and provides a service speed of 11 knots burning 18 gallons of diesel per hour. Her gross tonnage is 300 tons and she can carry up to 200 passengers and 100 tons of cargo. These were the features Alberni Marine Transportation owners were looking for when contemplating a second vessel for their expanding operation. Such a vessel would readily accommodate the increased summer tourist traffic and freight load, as well as qualify for a Canadian Coast Guard Home Trade III classification allowing the transport of passengers anywhere within British Columbia coastal waters.
Early in 1990 Brooke, accompanied by Chief Engineer Bill, inspected the now for sale Hidle and deemed her to be in good condition. The deal was closed in March of that year and the ship's registry was changed from Norwegian to Canadian as was her name which became Frances Barkley. To give you an insight into why this name was chosen we present the following excerpts from a publication entitled The Remarkable World of Frances Barkley: 1769 - 1845 written by Beth Hill and published by Gray's Publishing of Sidney, B.C.
Frances Barkley was born Frances Hornby Trevor in Bridgewater, Somersetshire, England in 1769. After many moves and a Roman Catholic Convent education on the continent, Frances left school at the age of seventeen.
Frances, very beautiful with long red-gold hair met and married twenty-six year old captain William Charles Barkley of the Loudoun at Ostend on October 17, 1786.
Together with a crew they sailed for the West Coast of America aboard the Imperial Eagle, the Loudoun renamed. She left Ostend on Friday, November 24, 1786.
They arrived at Nootka Sound in June of 1787 and with no other vessels there, Captain Barkley did extremely well in trading with the assistance of Dr. John Mackey, who had traveled with Captain Cook and had been living with the natives for a year.
After staying about a month they voyaged southward where they discovered yet another large sound. They named it Barkley Sound and gave several of their names to the bays and islands in the area. (examples include: Trevor Channel, Loudoun Channel, and Hornby Peak).
After much global travel the Barkleys settled in England and raised a family. Charles Barkley died May 16, 1832 in his 73rd year. Frances began writing her "Reminiscences" in 1836. She died in May 1845.
The strength of character and sense of adventure exhibited by Frances Barkley throughout her life, particularly on her voyages to the coast of B.C., make her a most fitting namesake for a ship such as this one now plying the waters of B.C.'s coast, sounds and inlets.
Having bought, re-registered and re-named her, it was now time to prepare the Frances Barkley for her voyage from Stavanger to Port Alberni. Brooke and his crew, along with shipyard workers, spent nine weeks in Norway sandblasting, painting, carrying out bottom work, extending the boat deck, plating-in what was then an open cardeck aft, and covering up the lower windows to protect them from heavy seas.
Finally, on June 20, it was time for Brooke and his adventuresome crew to cast off and begin their 51 day journey following the same course that the Lady Sylvia had sailed over 50 years earlier. They crossed the North Sea and went through the English Channel into the Atlantic. When they reached the Azores two crew members signed-off and a replacement was picked up in Puerto Rico. From there they sailed through the Panama Canal and up the North American Coast stopping at Manzanillo and San Diego before reaching Port Alberni. Fortunately for the Frances Barkley crews, weather conditions for them were much less severe than they were for "Old make it or bust" and his boys aboard the Lady Sylvia, and the only really uncomfortable stretch was during their time in the Caribbean where they found themselves without wind in very confused and uncomfortable sea states. The air was unbearably muggy forcing Brooke and his crew from their cabins below into the upper lounges to attempt sleep. They report the highlight of their trip as going through the Panama Canal. It was midnight on August 11, 1990 when they reached Port Alberni.
© copyright 1999 Lady Rose Marine Services.
This page last updated Mar 16th - 2015.
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