The suction dredge King Edward VII
he work to improve navigation in Victoria’s Middle and Inner Harbours began in 1873 with the federally funded removal of Spence Rock, a significant navigational hazard, and of the gravel spit that extended out from Shoal Point. The Shoal Point spit had barred ocean-going vessels from entrance into Victoria’s Middle, Inner, and Upper Harbours, limiting them to the Outer Harbour where they were susceptible to winter’s ferocious storms.
Rock blasting in Victoria Harbour c. 1902. City of Vancouver Archives AM54-S4
On August 01, 1885 it was announced in the Victoria British Colonist that the Federal Government had added “considerable money” to continue the improvement of navigation within the harbour. The new phase included the removal of Dredger Rock and continued dredging to allow even deeper-draft vessels to access the Middle, Inner and Upper Harbours.
In addition to providing improved navigation the project, dredged soil was used to fill small bays and shallows. All of this allowed for the development of a wide range of commercial activities to occur along the harbour’s shoreline, making Victoria a vibrant working harbour well into the 1960’s.
The Suction Dredge King Edward VII
Arthur Wells Robinson, a Canadian engineer with considerable international experience with dredging machinery, designed ‘dredge 305’ for the Department of Public Works of Canada.
illustration of the suction dredge King Edward VII
Known as the King Edward was built to be employed primarily in keeping the channels of the Fraser River open to navigation, with some additional work improving the harbours at Vancouver and Victoria. The form and utility of the King Edward revived ancient jealousies between the Mainland and Vancouver Island, as Victoria also coveted the services of the suction dredge. The Island press, which never missed an opportunity to decry the navigability of the Fraser River,
The hull of the dredge King Edward was 32 feet wide, 125 feet long and 7.5 feet deep. At the end of the bow boom was a radial cutter capable of grinding through sand, snags and hardpan. The boat was anchored by two spuds and advanced with a stern paddle-wheel. The discharge pipes floated across the water and could be laid down on land up to a kilometer from the intake, ideal for land reclamation projects. Quarters for Captain and crew were on her upper deck.