We recently got some very interesting reclaimed wood to use in the construction of our Douglas Fir shoe shine kits. It is over one hundred years old and came from a steamship called the Princess Mary.
The SS Princess Mary was a famous steamship in the Pacific Northwest. She was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway by Bow McLachlan and Company in 1911 in Paisley, Scotland. Princess Mary was part of CPR’s “Princess Fleet” with ships including the SS Princess Adelaide, SS Princess Alice and SS Princess Sophia.
A small ship at just under 250 feet and 2155 tons Princess Mary was known as a “pocket liner” having been outfitted with luxurious amenities common to the larger ocean crossing vessels of the day. The interior was trimmed with beautiful long wooden strips of mahogany that most likely came from Cuba or Honduras.
Under CPR the ship serviced a route including Powell River, Nanaimo, Comox and Vancouver. During the First World War, Princess Mary took the 30th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force to combat in 1915.
In the 1950’s the ship was retired and broken down. The converted hull was made into a barge and lost at sea under tow with a tug in a storm off the Alaska Panhandle in 1954 with a loss of 14 lives. Part of the dining hall and smoking room was cut away from the superstructure and used on land as a coffee shop for the employees of the Island Tug and Barge Company. Word spread about the fantastic seafood chowder and It later become a much loved local seafood restaurant in Victoria BC famous for shrimp cocktails and Sooke oyster brochettes wrapped in bacon with butter, mushrooms and tartar sauce. My wife and her two older brothers have many fond memories of fish and chip dinners with fried clams, shrimp cocktails and Shirley Temples. The Princess Mary restaurant closed recently and we knew someone who had salvaged some of the original 1911 mahogany trim during a renovation a few years ago.
It makes for a beautiful insert with a wonderful historic connection to the island grown Douglas Fir we use.