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April 25, 2012

S.S. Beaver medal to recognize marine contributions in B.C.

Victoria News
Published: April 24, 2012
By Erin McCracken

Individuals making outstanding contributions to B.C.'s maritime sector may be eligible to receive a new medal, launched by the Maritime Museum of B.C. in Victoria.

"We think it's a very suitable recognition for deserving individuals who make contributions in the marine field, and there isn't anything like this (medal) right now," said Jan Drent, museum past-president, who sits on the seven-member awards committee.

The museum issued a call for nominations last week for potential recipients of the S.S. Beaver Medal for Maritime Excellence. The first medal will be presented in the fall.

Each year, up to three gold-plated medals will be granted to individuals who have made significant achievements in B.C., in marine-related fields of science, technology, business, maritime skills, nautical heritage, culture and academia.

"We hope that this award will help draw attention to all of these (accomplishments) that are happening (in the marine sector)," Drent said.

It's only fitting that the medals were designed with the image of the S.S. Beaver, the first steamship on the West Coast, he said. In fact, the batch of medals to be awarded by the museum was created using copper and other materials salvaged decades ago from the wreck of the vessel.

The ship, built in Britain in 1835 for the Hudson's Bay Company, helped shape Victoria.

"The Beaver was used as sort of a floating trading post, and worked up and down the coast," Drent said. It later came to Victoria in 1843, transporting James Douglas to the site he had chosen the previous year to build Fort Victoria.

The vessel later transported gold rush prospectors between Victoria and the Lower Mainland, and was used to conduct surveys of uncharted waters.

The Beaver was later used as a tug and transport vessel before she foundered on rocks at the entrance of Vancouver's harbour in 1888.