RCMP St. Roch

st roch

Built in British Columbia, named after a parish in Quebec, captained by a Norwegian immigrant, crewed by farm boys from across the country, and helped by the Inuit, the St. Roch was the first vessel to sail the Northwest Passage from west to east (1940-1942), the first to complete the passage in one season (1944), and the first to circumnavigate North America.

One of the only ships in service in the Arctic in the early part of the 20th century, the St. Roch is made of an unusual design of thick Douglas Fir planks reinforced with heavy beams to withstand the ice pressure and an outer shell made of some of the hardest wood in the world, Australian Eucalyptus 'iron bark'.

Between 1928 and 1954, St. Roch logged tens of thousands of miles crossing and re-crossing the Arctic, acting as a floating detachment of the RCMP in the North. At various times a supply ship, a patrol vessel and a transport, the St. Roch was the only link between the various scattered northern communities. Yet it had not yet accomplished the feat for which it would become famous. For many years, it had been the dream of Captain Henry Larsen to cross the Northwest Passage, just as Amundsen had done for the first time in the Goja in 1903. But time and time again, the dream had to remain a dream.

Finally, with the outbreak of the Second World War and the Nazi invasion of Denmark (Greenland), the opportunity presented itself. Launched on its famous voyage on a secret mission to cross the Arctic during the war, this amazing vessel traveled through treacherous and uncharted waters to cross the Northwest Passage and the High Arctic, with only a small crew of steadfast men who had just their skill, talent and no small amount of luck to rely on. Incredibly, they managed to make the crossing not just once, but twice, and in only 86 days the second time!

Now, you can explore one of the world's great Arctic explorers and a National Historic Site of Canada. Walk the decks, tour the interior cabins, marvel at the "ice-bucket", wonder at the close-knit quarters, and even take the helm to traverse uncharted waters just like the brave men of 1942/44.


Museum info:
Address: 1905 Ogden Avenue in Vanier Park, Vancouver, BC V6J 1A3, Canada
Phone: 604-257-8300
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