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Iroquois Shipwreck

Sidney Channel, Sidney, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1978/01/27

Iroquois Shipwreck; Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia, 2007
Iroquois Shipwreck; Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia, 2007
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2012/12/10

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Iroquois Shipwreck provincial heritage site consists of the remains of the Iroquois, a shelter-deck steamship built in 1900 that foundered off Sidney, Vancouver Island on April 10, 1911. The wreck scatter covers an area 7 meters wide and 34 meters long and lies in some 30 meters of water off Roberts Point, just north of Sidney, British Columbia.

Heritage Value

The wreck of the Iroquois is of particular social and historical value as both a gravesite and a memorial of the nautical disaster which occurred on April 10, 1911. The ship, which typically carried passengers, mail, and freight between Vancouver Island and Gulf Island communities, was overloaded with cargo; it quickly filled with water and sank within minutes of leaving the dock at Sidney. At least eighteen men, women, and children lost their lives within sight of the shore. (The Department of Marine Annual Report records the official loss as 18 people.) Today, the wreck site is known as a memorial to the passengers and crew who lost their lives when the vessel sank. The propeller from the Iroquois has been recovered and is now located at Iroquois Park in nearby Sidney.

Although the wood of the Iroquois has deteriorated, what remains of the vessel and her cargo serves as a time capsule of British Columbia's regional transportation history. The vessel's surviving machinery—such as the rudder, compound steam engine, Scotch marine boiler and propeller shaft—is important as the remains of what was once an integral link in a water transportation network that connected the Gulf Islands with the urban centers of Victoria and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Before the province's modern ferry system was created, small coastal steamers such as the Iroquois acted as a lifeline between island communities. They played a key role in the economic development and early settlement of the west coast of British Columbia in the first half of the twentieth century.

The wreck of the Iroquois is also important as a unique example of a small shelter-deck steamer, a type of vessel which was distinctive in British Columbia's coastal waters in the early twentieth century.

Source: Province of British Columbia, Heritage Branch files

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Iroquois Shipwreck include:

- The remains which identify it as a shelter-deck steamer
- The context of the Iroquois wreck: on the bottom close to its point of departure, Sidney, Vancouver Island
- The remains of the vessel's machinery including its compound steam engine, Scotch marine boiler, propeller shaft, rudder, dynamo and foredeck winch
- Examples of the vessel's cargo remaining on site, including a 1910-11 era outboard motor, railway steel, a propeller, small-gauge railway wheels, bottles of pickled pigs' feet, and pieces of dining china



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Province of British Columbia

Recognition Statute

Heritage Conservation Act, s.9, s.13(1)(a)

Recognition Type

Provincial Heritage Site (Designated)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1911/01/01 to 1911/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation

Function - Category and Type




Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Province of British Columbia, Heritage Branch files

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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