Image courtesy of Wikimedia
Princess Mary was built by Bow-McLachlan & Co in Glasgow. She was commanded by CH Oxlade, regular master of the Empress of India over the 80 days delivery passage, arriving in Victoria in mid-February 1911.. Upon her arrival she was placed upon the Victoria-Comox route, relieving the steamer City of Nanaimo, which was subsequently sold to the Terminal Steam Navigation Co and renamed Bowena.
Princess Mary was extensively rebuilt by Yarrow’s yard at Esquimalt, her length increased from 210’ to 248’, her beam from 39.7’ to 40′, and her draft from 16’ to 14′. Her displacement was increased from 1,697 to 2155 tons.
Princess Mary and Princess Victoria were sold for dismantling in 1954, their hulls converted to cargo barges. Harold Elworthy, head of Island Tug and Barge, saved the Princess Mary’s superstructure and converted it into a popular seafood restaurant on Harbour Road in Vic West.
Bill Lang, who was 19 years old when he started working at the restaurant, left to spend several years in the golf course business. But the Princess Mary called him back. Over a hamburger, Don Elworthy, Harold’s son, struck a deal on a paper napkin to sell the restaurant to Lang. Lang put the Princess Mary Restarurant on a new course, expanding its banquet and meeting services. He acquired more land, boosted the size of the site to 3.5 acres from the original 0.98. Everyone from local residents to famous names stopped at the restaurant. Lang recalls customers such as Jean Chrétien, Ralph Klein, Joe Clark, hockey players Gordie Howe and Frank Mahovlich, plus James Bond actor Roger Moore, and Anson Williams, who played Potsie on TV’s Happy Days.
In 2006, the property was sold to develop the Dockside Green housing and commercial project. When Dockside was developed, the restaurant’s etched and stained glass from the original Princess Mary went to the Maritime Museum of B.C. The old ship was taken apart after a new owner could not be found.