Elizabeth J. Irving was a wooden stern-wheel named after the wife of her owner, John Irving. The vessel was an 86 hp steamer of 693 tons register. With scantlings of 167 x 33.8 x 2.6 feet, she was the largest stern-wheeler on the Fraser River, and the first to be equipped with electric lighting. Her engine had previously powered the dismantled Royal City. Elizabeth J. Irving was constructed to compete against Captain William Moore’s Western Slope on the lucrative Victoria / Yale run. She was built at Victoria for Captain John Irving’s Pioneer Line and named after the captain’s mother.
Irving took her across from Victoria on her maiden voyage on September 21st 1881, rriving at Hope after dark to showcase her electric illumination. She was greeted with wild enthusiasm. On her second trip she was lying alongside at Hope when a spark from her smokestack ignited her cargo of hay. She was quickly engulfed and burned to her waterline. Though passengers and crew jumped to the wharf it was reported in the Inland Sentinal the skeletons of several First Nations people were found on the main deck.
Elizabeth J. Irving was reported to have cost $50,000.00 to construct and had $20,000.00 in fittings. The vessel had not yet been insured. That Irving salvaged Elizabeth J. Irving’s engine and immediately ordered an even larger vessel to replace her speaks to the profits to be made moving cargo and passengers between Victoria and the Fraser River.
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