St. Roch

 St. Roch, wooden schooner powered by sails and an auxiliary engine, launched in North Vancouver in Apr 1928 for ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE operations in the Arctic. Under the command of Sergeant Henry A. LARSEN, it sailed 23 June 1940 from Vancouver to traverse the NORTHWEST PASSAGE.

Taking a treacherous southerly route through the arctic islands, it was trapped in the ice for 2 winters and did not reach Halifax until 11 Oct 1942. It was the second vessel, after Roald AMUNDSEN's Gjoa, to traverse the Northwest Passage, and the first to make the voyage west to east.

The St. Roch returned to Vancouver by a more northerly route, through LANCASTER SOUND and Barrow Strait, in only 86 days (22 July-16 Oct 1944). This voyage made it the first vessel to negotiate the passage both ways. The exploits of the St. Roch strengthened Canadian ARCTIC SOVEREIGNTY.

In 1950 the St. Roch made a southern voyage and thus became the first ship to circumnavigate North America. It was purchased by the city of Vancouver in 1954 and permanently berthed at the Maritime Museum. The federal government declared the St. Roch a national HISTORIC SITE in 1962.