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Ghost Ships of Royston

I can't remember when I first heard of the ghost ships of Royston but I was intrigued. Back in the 30's the Southeast winds blowing down the Strait of Georgia were creating havoc on the booming grounds belonging to the Comox Logging and Railway Company. It was clear that a breakwater was needed. At some point it was decided to use surplus ships to protect the grounds. In 1936 the first relic, a 73.3 metre, 5 masted schooner named the Laurel Whalen was sunk. Over the next 25 years some 14 other vessels were added to the growing breakwater. We had to check it out.

We headed north from the Departure Bay Ferry Terminal and made our way to the Qualicum Bay turnoff along Horne Lake Road. Heading up the old Island Highway we made our first stop at a picker's paradise, Things and Stuff. You'd be amazed at the treasures to be found both inside and outside the store. As usual, a must have, whimsical piece of garden art was found amongst the chaos. With our treasure secure on board we drove north to Royston.

What a site! Although best viewed from a kayak at low tide, some vessels are easily discerned from shore, including the bow of the Riversdale, a three-masted steel ship launched in Scotland in 1894, and the bow and stern of the former fourmasted barque, Comet, launched as a kerosene carrier for the Anglo-American Oil Company of London in 1901.

In total four Royal Canadian Navy warships, one U.S. navy destroyer, one or possibly two whalers, two Canadian Pacific Railway steam tugs, a deepsea rescue tug, and, from the era of commercial sailing, a wood-hulled barquentine and auxiliary schooner, along with three massive Cape Horn windjammers were scuttled to form the breakwater.

Usually we bring along a picnic but decided to pamper ourselves in Courtenay at the Atlas Cafe. This is one popular spot and we had to wait some time before the lunch crowd left and a table became available. Our lunch was superb. Fresh food, combined with great service and an intimate outdoor patio was just the ticket. Bring your appetite as the portions are quite large. This place keeps us coming back!

Once satiated, we drove home to start the process of finding the perfect spot in the garden for our new purchase.

  1. Start: BC Ferry Terminal - Departure Bay Nanaimo
    Ferry Service Between Nanaimo and West Vancouver 
  2. Things & Stuff
    An Elm Hill favorite!!! I really can't go up island without stopping in... 
  3. Royston BC
    Seaside hamlet protected by a breakwater of warships, tug boats and freighters. 
  4. End: Courtenay BC
    The City of Courtenay is a vibrant and culturally diverse community.