Lorne was a 151-ft wooden tugboat commissioned in 1889 by the Dunsmuir family. She was built at Victoria’s Laing’s Ways and powered by a triple expansion steam engine. At launch she was the finest vessel ever to have been built in Victoria’s harbour. British Columbia’s most famous towboat, her name was a household word in the days when boats and the sea figured large in the day-to-day conversation of most Victorians.

Lorne’s first master was Capt. James Christiansen, a significant figure in Victoria’s maritime history. Christiansen was a trader, sealer, tug master, and among the first of BC’s Coastal Pilots. The roster of Lorne’s subsequent commanders included many of the finest masters and pilots employed on this coast. Capt. L.P. Locke, lost in the Princess Sophia tragedy, served aboard Lorne in his time.

After her service to the Dunsmuirs, Lorne was sold to James Griffiths & Sons of Seattle and served as a unit of their fleet.

During her long career, Lorne had only one serious accident. On 14 August 1914, while towing coal aboard the Griffiths barge America through dense fog from Seattle to Vancouver, both vessels piled up on the rocks of Kanaka Bay in Washington State’s San Juan Islands. Lorne lay on the rocks for three years until economic conditions made it viable for her salvage in 1917.

For nearly 50 years Lorne gave service along the Pacific Northwest Coast. Her last decade was as a unit of the Pacific (Coyle) Navigation Company’s fleet. Purchased for scrap by the Shaffer-Haggert Co., Lorne was broken at B.C. Marine Engineering & Shipbuilding yards in 1936.


Saltwater People