There’s More Than One Way to Circumnavigate and This Canadian Ship Did It

May 29, 1950

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) schooner St. Roch arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, after becoming the first ship to circumnavigate North America. The ship, which was launched in 1928, was specially designed and built to withstand the heavy ice pressures of Canada’s Arctic region. The vessel’s original purpose included serving as a supply ship for remote RCMP detachments in that part of the world.

In 1942, St. Roch — pronounced “Rock” — became only the second ship to complete a voyage through the treacherous Northwest Passage and the first to do so in a west-east direction. The ship further distinguished herself two years later by becoming the first vessel to complete a trip through the Northwest Passage in just one season and accomplishing that via that region’s more northerly and less-used route.

In 1950, the recently upgraded St. Roch left Halifax, battered her way yet again through the Northwest Passage, and eventually traveled southward towards Vancouver, British Columbia. The ship subsequently completed the remainder of her voyage around the continent by traveling from Vancouver to Halifax by the way of the Panama Canal. As one member of the ship’s 15-man crew of Canadian Mounties admitted in an interview with the news agency Canadian Press, the southern half of the trip was notably tamer and “it’s much more exciting in the Arctic.”

St. Roch was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1962. She can be found today at the Vancouver Maritime Museum.

For more information on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police schooner St. Roch, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Roch_(ship) and https://www.vancouvermaritimemuseum.com/permanent-exhibit/st-roch-national-historic-site.

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