For sail: readers’ 550 suggestions for B.C. Ferries new vessels

How about naming a ferry Salish Sea? Or Orca Spirit?

Or Salish Spirit?

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Or Salish Orca?

Or Orca Salish Sea?

Anyone detect a trend here?

Two weeks ago, we asked readers to tell us what they thought B.C. Ferries should name its next three vessels. It was a just-for-fun exercise, not to be confused with the corporation’s own christening contest.

Fun or not, readers responded enthusiastically, with more than 550 suggestions, including the ones listed above — proof that Vancouver Islanders really do have a sense of ownership over “their” ferry fleet.

Themes emerged. Readers’ ideas reflected their deep love of B.C.’s coast and natural environment. Aboriginal names were prominent, too (though some readers recommended asking First Nations’ permission first). The word “Salish” appeared 72 times, while “orca” popped up 35 times.

Unlike B.C. Ferries’ contest, ours allowed entrants to submit the names of people. Readers took advantage of that, proposing we call our boats after everyone from Canucks legend Pat Quinn to B.C.’s first premier, John Foster McCreight.

Readers also ignored B.C. Ferries’ desire that the new class of vessels get its own designation. Turns out Islanders like the old class names just fine — the Queen of This and the Coastal That. Spirits? We had more Spirits than a seance in a distillery.

Lots of poetic stuff, too. Entries included Moons, Tides, Currents, Waves, Dreams, Adventurers, Voyagers, Sunsets, and a Sunrise. Fred Havekotte proposed the Queens of Serenity, Tranquility, Placidity, Ataraxia (emotional tranquility), Repose and Reflection (“All possible name suggestions that describe the experience of riding on a B.C. Ferry”).

Others were more utilitarian: Maritime Conveyor, Trans-Canada Connector and Bob Clarke’s optimistically named Safe Voyage and Calm Passage.

Animals? The entries read like a Disney movie. Heron, Raven, Falcon, Gull, Grebe, Eagle, Hawk and Cormorant all took flight. There were SS Sockeye, Otter Bypass, Sea Lion Alley and, at a stretch, Quatchi, the Vancouver Olympics mascot. Mur Meadows suggested recognizing B.C.’s official mammal, fish and bird: Legend of the Spirit Bear, Legend of the Pacific Salmon, Legend of the Steller’s Jay.

And then there were the whales:

• Ashley Bronaugh proposed an Orca class, with individual ferries named after the different pods, such as J-pod and L-pod, giving passengers the opportunity to learn about resident killer whales.

• We know individual whales by name. How about the Legacy of Luna, Springer and Keiko, asked Shirley Roberts.

• Or, more sadly, S.B. Julian’s suggestion of Freedom of Lolita, Corky, and Tilikum, all captive orcas.

Retired navigation officer Richard Parsley of Nanaimo wanted to restore the Queens to the throne. Not only did those names foster pride in the fleet, they were practical: “Do not forget the men and women in the wheelhouse have to say that name many times a day over the radio. So if nothing else, try repeating the name many times before foisting it on the ship’s navigators.” (Guess that leaves out the Queen of Ucluelet.)

But Ruth Toney wanted to set another course: “Enough already with the Queens!” There’s gender equality for tornadoes, so let’s have the same thing for ships, she wrote, proposing King of the Seas.

Speaking of regal appellations, several readers suggested naming a ship after the royal baby, Princess Charlotte.

Other individuals included Rick Hansen, Terry Fox and Hannah Day, as well as Amor De Cosmos (we have a soft spot for this one because he founded the British Colonist and was an all-round colourful guy), George I. Warren (the first person to start a proper automobile ferry service to Victoria from Vancouver, wrote Marg Williams) and Ginger Goodwin (labour leader gunned down near Cumberland in 1918).

The latter was put forward by Dr. Richard Kool, who also suggested the Courage of Hartley Bay, “redressing the long-felt need to honour the First Nations of that northern coastal community who came out to rescue the victims of the Queen of the North disaster.”

There were trees (Douglas firs, Garry oaks, Sitka spruce, cedars, trembling aspen and lodgepole pine), Margaret Osika’s suggestion of lighthouses (Carmanah, Pachena and Estevan) and even a touch of Latin: Porthmeus, meaning ferryman, Ponticulus for a little bridge.

Aboriginal names suggested included those of some of the bands along the ferry routes: K’omoks, Sliammon and Penelakut. Sandra Johnson suggests a class called Salish or Salish Sea, with individual ferries named (with the bands’ permission) for First Nations who historically used those waters.

Queen of the Salishan, Nuu-chah-nulth and Squamish were suggested by Nadine Charles. Derek Sanderson touted Songhees, Lekwungen, Sooke and Haida Gwaii.

Suki Grewal took another tack with the Spirit of Multiculturalism.

Shirley Johnson not only proposed naming ferries after renowned B.C. artists — suggesting Bill Reid, Emily Carr and E.J. Hughes as vessels in the Artistry class — but had an idea on how to decorate them.

“Imagine the ships’ public areas with posters/murals of these artists’ work, particularly E.J. Hughes, as he painted many ferries and boats,” Johnson wrote, adding that subsequent ferries could be named after Ted Harrison and Toni Onley and so on.

Bonnie Aase reminded coastal residents that we’re not the centre of the universe by pointing out that all of B.C. helps pay for the ferry service.

She suggests the Queen of Revelstoke or Spirit of the Peace River.

Battlegrounds of the First and Second World Wars were suggested by David Carton of Parksville, who came up with the Unforgotten class and names of Vimy, Dieppe and Normandy.

Sharon Sinclair gave us Shores of Integrity, Shores of Diversity and Shores of Serendipity.

“We must maintain the integrity of the shores. The diversity of the shores are incredible. Whenever we arrive somewhere, we are always pleasantly surprised at the new and delightful things we see.”

We asked for serious submissions, but readers couldn’t resist having some fun. There were the Maid in Poland (the three new ferries are being built in Gdansk, Poland) and Malahat Relief, both from Carol Thibault.

Use your best pirate voice to try out Lorne Chisholm’s entries: R. Jimmy, A. Laddie, and I. Matey.

Steve Summers submitted the Sunshine Breakfast (we still miss it), Big O and Curly Fries.

Frank Scheithauer rejected our notion that Islanders feel a sense of ownership over “our” fleet. “If it was ‘ours’ it would be run as a service (instead of a bastardized quasi-corporation), be part of the provincial highway system and all new ships would be built in B.C.” His choices? I Don’t Give a Ship 1, I Don’t Give a Ship 2 and I Don’t Give a Ship 3.

The winner of our contest was based on the popularity of names and themes submitted by readers. Queen of the Salish Sea, as suggested by Victoria’s Laura Weston, combined the desire of entrants to retain the old class names with a swell of support for all things Salish. Weston wins the original of the Adrian Raeside cartoon accompanying this article.

The runners-up get a copy of Raeside’s No Sailing Waits book of ferry cartoons. They include Blake Fallis’s Pride of Terry Fox, which combined entrants’ love for the area with a desire to celebrate its heroes, and Renita Steffan’s Spirit of Kakawin (which means killer whale in Nuu-chah-nulth), melding indigenous recognition with a passion for our natural world.

Don’t forget that the real name-the-ferries contest has an entry deadline of this Tuesday, June 9, with the winning names announced in July. The details can be found at bcferries.com.

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