Maquinna: Calling on the Way Stops of Life

The intention here, was to present a particular picture of Princess Maquinna.  After all, she had been referenced in three prior posts on this part of the blog. This was her time; present her, then to move on to the next page of Pop’s scrapbook.

Scrapbook? Well, she was scrapped and is now scrapbooked on many an internet site. She is gone, verifiably so. She is gone like the logging camp I have been telling you about.  Gone too, like the logging camp I will be telling you about. Gone like the big pharma firm that brought me to the US. Bought out, or gone. One and the same. Gone. Just like the second, the third, and maybe the fourth pharma house. We lose count with so much gone-ness.  Maybe it is just called change. Yes, let’s call it change. Gone are the dear ones that we remember here. Memories; let’s call them, love.

But Princess Maquinna is gone again. Not in a mystical way. You see, we had the steamer as art, decorating our living room wall for as long as I can remember. She was gliding upon calm Pacific water on a light filled day. When my father passed, so went the dear Princess. Before she left, I took a picture of her picture.  Her file size was large, probably easily reduced by anyone else. My fix was to dry dock her to flash drive. Yup, she is gone. No, she is not in the file cabinet. No, not in a desk drawer. No, not with photo albums. Not in the safe. She is GONE. I needed the exact her, to memorialize her, here, forever. Gone too, are precious moments, looking for her.  

Oh well, one can view her in black and white at the Cumberland Museum and Archives, photo C250-001.1 Here, she seems grayed to a light Pacific fog. As to her naming; Nootka Sound indents the coast  between Clayoquot and Quatsino – after Port Renfrew, when on her northerly route. Of course, most already know that resident Chief Maquinna and explorer Captain James Cook met at Nootka Sound, long ago – a couple of decades before the turn of the 19th Century. The Princess’ name confirmed her rugged route, so often plied in life before, by the great Chief.  There are many variant spellings of his name, probably better suited to how he actually pronounced himself, but Maquinna is etched to his Princess ship.

Princess Maquinna was an essential component to our life at Port Renfrew.  Her unwitting partnership with our Hemmingsen side began in the early 1930s, when Grandad, Matt Hemmingsen (1876-1967) commenced his logging operations, there.  Sure, he probably was aboard her earlier than that, and often, but emergent 1930s was official Hemmingsen-Maquinna time.

Grandad, James Dickson (1882-1969) may have beaten Matt to the punch. “Jim” appeared on Vancouver Island, January 1912.2 He was soon to turn 30.  His last census in Scotland had been taken just nine months earlier. It had him still a hewer, or picker of the rock, at the coal face.3 The immigrant, somehow, came to Canada in a foreman position.4 He was the Chief Inspector of Mines for the Province of British Columbia, by his early forties.  Most would have made that quick career rise, earlier in life. But, here he was, in this new vast land, with mining, a booming industry, and a mountain (pun, I tell you) of information to absorb, rapidly. 

Canadian Pacific Railway steamers serviced both mining and forestry during this era, of the west coast of Vancouver Island. To make the point, an earlier steamer, the Tees, found mention in the Report of the Minister of Mines 1907, in that, the “Provincial Mineralogist … returned to Victoria … to catch the steamer Tees, which runs up the west coast of Vancouver Island to Quatsino Sound”.5 Princess Maquinna picked up that run, around 1913. 

Dailly Colonist

So, now, a James Dickson was aboard the Tees, which was destined for Quatsino, according to the Daily Colonist of 21 August 1912.6

Notice that the “voyage” was worthy of newspaper space!

 “James Dickson” was  the sum total identification for that passenger.  In what confidence may we claim him?  Only by intuition; it feels right.  Of course, that does not make it right. The BC census, taken the year prior, enumerated only eight adult namesakes.7 It was not an easy trip to be taken lightly, so what might have prompted such a journey? A good possibility is that the referenced James Dickson may have been a miner, making his mark, out assessing Clayoquot coal, or Quatsino ore.

Should James Dickson, on the Tees, not be Grandad, then he would, anyway, soon find himself on the Maquinna, to visit the same mining ventures. Routinely, even. Maquinna was how one got there.  For certain, it would be official Dickson-Maquinna, by 1927, when he assumed Chief Inspector, beating Matt’s 1930s start. OK, the reality is, they were both venturing all over Vancouver Island, and all places, British Columbia.

So, family, we always thought Hemmingsen–Dickson was consequent to a meeting at the University of British Columbia, in the late 1930s. It now seems quite possible that the family paths crossed on the Maquinna, or even the Tees, long before.

Little wonder she adorned our wall.

Left: Hemmingsen-Cameron Co. Ltd. operation at Port Renfrew, B. C. in 1940 – and in 1990 when our family revisited the area – 50 years after they replanted it for forest regeneration. For additional posts on HEMMINGSEN LOGGING HISTORY in northwestern Wisconsin, on Vancouver Island and in Newfoundland CLICK HERE

  1. Cumberland Museum and Archives. Photo C250-001 S.S. Princess Maquinna (steamship) passengers on top deck. Date 1930-40s.
  2. Documents Accessed at Family Search: ©2017 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. / Canada Passenger Lists 1881-1922: citing Immigration, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada T-4825, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Canada Digital Folder 004550414 Image 00245
  3. Document accessed at ScotlandsPeople Citing document for Dickson, James K (Census 1911 647/00 024/00 028). Data are ©Crown Copyright, National Records of Scotland. 
  4. Family History, John Oliver Hemmingsen, December 1999, Victoria, British Columbia, Presented under this copyright.  All rights reserved.  
  5. Document Accessed At Government of British Columbia 1907.pdf
  6. “For West Coast,” The Daily Colonist 21 August 1912 p. 15
  7. Document Accessed at Family Search:  ©2017 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. / Citing Canada Census 1911 for British Columbia, Canada, Library and Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; FHL microfilm 2,417,658.

Please scroll, to reply below.

8 thoughts on “Maquinna: Calling on the Way Stops of Life

  1. Shivers run up my spine. I so hope you find Princes Maquinna stuck in the back of drawer in your desk!


  2. Have you joined the Facebook group, Historical Quatsino? My family was one of the 1St settlers there. (Evensen) I have a photo of Jim Dickson. He was standing between my Great aunts, Minnie & Edie Evensen. It’s very old and grainy, but was labelled with his name. Perhaps in my old box of photos I have one of your ship. I have many ship photos from that time, passed down from my Great grandparents.


    1. Thanks so much for following my blog (hope you find some interesting stuff) and especially for your comments. I will certainly check out Historical Quatsino – is the photo of Jim Dickson there? My grandfather was known as Jim, or Jimmy, but there was another gentleman of similar age and occupational interest around at the time – which is typical of genealogical pursuit. It would be great if your picture was of ours! You must have a treasure trove of history.


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