Duffin Passage, Tofino, British Columbia, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Hera Shipwreck provincial heritage site consists of the remains of the Hera, a three-masted wooden schooner built in 1869 that burned and sank in Tofino Harbour on November 25th, 1899. The vessel's lower hull, which is still intact to the turn of the bilge, (the point where the ship's walls join the bottom) measures 40.3 meters in length by 8.9 meters in width. The wreck lies on the sea floor in 12 meters of water off the east end of Felice Island, immediately northwest of Tofino, British Columbia.
The wreck of the schooner Hera serves as a representative example of the many small-to-medium size trading schooners, typically built in New England, that were common along the west coast of North America during late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The remains of the Hera survive as a time capsule of West Coast maritime history. Not only valued for the significant role it played in the 1898 Gold Rush to the Yukon and Alaska, the Hera also provides an important illustration of the integral role that ships of this type played in trade and transportation between the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver Island, Alaska, and Hawaii in the late nineteenth century. It is significant that barrels of lime and kegs of bottled Rainier beer survive at the wreck site as part of the cargo the ship was carrying en route from Seattle to Honolulu when it caught fire and sank near Felice Island in November 1899.
The location of the Hera is also important to its heritage value. Lying close to the small community of Tofino, in an area often referred to as the "Graveyard of the Pacific," this shipwreck is indicative of the treacherous conditions that sailors and ships endured as part of transportation and shipping activity in this area.
Although the Hera was ravaged by fire, it is valued for its archaeological integrity. Largely buried under sand until it was discovered in December 1974, much of the below-deck cargo and machinery appear to be well preserved. The value of this site also lies in the fact that a large portion of the vessel still remains relatively intact, buried beneath the sandy bottom.
Source: Province of British Columbia, Heritage Branch files
The character-defining elements of the Hera Shipwreck include:
- The location of the wreck in the "Graveyard of the Pacific" along Vancouver Island's west coast
- The vessel's well-preserved hull and cargo
- The archaeological integrity of the wreck and its unique cargo of barrels filled with bottles of Rainier beer and lime, which still remain intact in its hold
- The intact state of the hull that remains buried beneath the sand bottom
Province of British Columbia
Heritage Conservation Act, s.9, s.13(1)(a)
Provincial Heritage Site (Designated)
1899/01/01 to 1899/01/01
1898/01/01 to 1898/01/01
1974/01/01 to 1974/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Communications and Transportation
Function - Category and Type
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Province of British Columbia, Heritage Branch files
Cross-Reference to Collection