Captain James William Troup (1855 –1931) was born in Portland, Oregon in February, 1855. He was the son of Capt. William H. Troup, a prominent early steamboat man in the Pacific Northwest. Together with his father, Captain Troup built many of the early steamboats that plied the Columbia River. He captained a number of vessels in Oregon, the Klondike, and British Columbia,
In 1901, when the Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) bought the Canadian Pacific Navigation Company (CPN) to form the British Columbia Coast Steamship Service, Captain Troup moved to Victoria, assuming responsibility of the operation. From that time forward Troup’s long career was closely linked with the CPR. In 1903, he was appointed Superintendent of the British Columbia Coast service of Canadian Pacific Railway. Troup is credited with conceiving and building CPR’s Princess fleet. In 1913, 10 of the 12 Princess ships in the coastal fleet had been built to the orders of Capt. Troup.
In 1904 Troup commissioned local architect, Francis Rattenbury to design a terminal in the Inner Harbour to accommodate the service’s passenger and cargo traffic. Rattenbury designed the terminal as a larger version of the half-timbered mansions he was successfully designing for many of Victoria’s wealthy of the day. The terminal opened in 1905. With the Coast Service’s success Troup commissioned Rattenbury again in 1920 to design a new and larger building to replace the original terminal. The building graces the Inner Harbour to this day.
The worst blow for Captain Troup during his career with the C.P.R. was the tragic sinking of the Princess Sophia. That ship ran aground on Vanderbilt Reef in Lynn Canal on October 23, 1918 though rescue vessels were at hand, it was too rough to take anyone off the Sophia. During the night of October 25, the storm increased, and the Sophia was blown off the reef and sank, taking all 343 people with her. The loss of the Sophia was the worst disaster in the history of the Canadian west coast and of Inside Passage shipping. It deeply affected Captain Troup, causing him a breakdown in health from which took him a long time to recover.
While Captain Troup was superintendent of C.P.R, steamships, he made sure that his old employer, Captain Irving, was always welcome on every ship in the fleet. After Troup retired, his successor tried to curtail Captain Irving’s travels by decreeing that passage might be free, but Irving would have to pay for meals and a berth. The line’s captains ignored this edict, and Captain Irving always had a cabin and was welcome at every captain’s table, as Captain Troup had wished.
Captain Troup retired in August 1928 at 73 years old, eight years past the C.P.R.’s mandatory retirement age. By this time the C.P.R. had a fleet of profitable modern steamer ships serving the west coast of Canada, Alaska, and Puget Sound, due in great part to the work of Captain Troup. In 1929, when he was 74 years old Captain Troup made his last whitewater run when the captain of the Lewiston showed Troup the high honor of asking him to pilot her through the lower Cascades. Captain Troup died on November 30, 1931. No other man contributed more to the maritime commerce of the Pacific Northwest.