RMS Empress of Japan arriving at Rithet’s Piers in Victoria’s Outer Harbour
RMS RMS Empress of Japan was the fastest of the three original Empresses, holding the speed record for crossing the Pacific for over two decades with her record set in 1897. She remained on the trans-Pacific route until 1922, then lingered, harbor-bound in Vancouver for several years. The dragon masthead has been preserved at the Seawall in Stanley Park.
Cornelius Van Horne, founder of Canadian Pacific Railways
In 1914, two days before the Empress arrived in Yokohama on a routine trip to Asia, World War I broke out in Europe. The Empress was refitted as an Armed merchantman, losing the elegant white gleam associated with luxury liners. After the Armistice, she was the only one of the first three Empress ocean liners to return to the trans-Pacific route. In 1923 she was employed in a different kind of battle when CP used the aging Empress to house strikebreakers in a dispute with the Vancouver and District Waterfront Workers’ Association.The ship remained moored in Vancouver’s harbour until 1926.