the screw driven steamship Cariboo and Fly Image courtesy of Wikimedis Commons

the screw driven steamship Cariboo and Fly Image courtesy of Wikimedis Commons

Joseph Spratt operated the semi-weekly East Coast Mail Line on the Victoria, Nanaimo, Chemainus and Gulf Islands service with the Maude, built in 1871, and the screw steamer Caribou and Fly. In 1881 Spratt purchased the Wilson G. Hunt from the Pioneer Line. In 1883 the line added passenger service from Victoria to Burrard Inlet with the Maude. Though Vancouver was not yet established but there were thriving sawmills at Granville and at Moodyville. The Canadian Pacific had chosen the inlet as the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

The East Coast Mail Line’s three vessels were:

Maude 1872

Maude was a wooden side-wheel steamer, 175 tons gross. 113.5 x 21.0 x 9.0 feet. Built for Captain Joseph Spratt. Hull launched on San Juan Island, towed to Victoria and fitted out. It is believed Maude served The East Coast Mail Line after being sold by the Pioneer line.  She was converted into a barge in 1884, fitted with a 9” – 18” – 20” triple expansion engine in 1885. Maude was sold to BC Salvage Company and converted into a salvage vessel in 1903

Cariboo and Fly

Cariboo and Fly was a wooden side-wheeler originally built by James Spratt.

Wilson G. Hunt 1848

In 1878, the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) was running the Enterprise on the Fraser River run from Victoria. The Company’s rival on this route was Captain John Irving, who held a monopoly on steamboat traffic on the upper Fraser routes but was hindered by the Company’s activity on the lower river. In early 1878, Captain Irving traveled to San Francisco, where he bought the Wilson G. Hunt. In February 1878 she was brought up by Captain Stoddard, cleaned up, repainted, and placed on the New Westminster route against Enterprise. (The Hunt ‘s Canadian registry number was 72676.

In July 1878 the Canadian government announced its decision that the transcontinental railroad would run down the Fraser River valley. There were over 5,000 tons of rails that had been piled up at Esquimalt for the construction of the Canadian Pacific’s extension on Vancouver Island. On July 23, 1878, Wilson G. Hunt transported the first shipment of these rails to New Westminster, where they were loaded on Royal City and taken up to Yale. During 1878 the Hunt, under captains Irving, Insley, and Rudlin, continued to do well against the Enterprise. In October 1878 Hudson’s Bay Company bought Hunt’s old rival, Olympia, renamed her Princess Louise and after a put her on the New Westminster run against the Hunt. Princess Louise was a far superior boat, and by the fall of 1879 the Company forced Captain Irving to come to terms, under which he and the HBC operated Princess Louise, Wilson G. Hunt and Enterprise jointly under Irving’s management as the Royal Mail Line.

Wilson G. Hunt was extensively repaired in 1879, and in 1881 was sold to Joseph Spratt, who was running the steamboats Maude, Caribou and Fly on the east coast of Vancouver Island as the East Coast Mail Line.