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Ericsson Shipwreck

near Folger Island, Barkley Sound, Bamfield, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1985/06/25

Ericsson Shipwreck; Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia, 2007
Pump Wheel
Ericsson Shipwreck; Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia, 2007
Ericsson Shipwreck; Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia, 2007
Mast Rings

Other Name(s)

Caloric Ship Ericsson
Ericsson Shipwreck

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2013/01/11

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Ericsson Shipwreck provincial heritage site consists of the remains of the caloric ship Ericsson, which was built in 1851 and wrecked in 1892. The wreck lies on the rock-sand seabed between Leach and Folger Islands off Cape Beale at the entrance to Barkley Sound in British Columbia. The remains of the 76-meter wooden vessel lie scattered across the sea floor, covering an area roughly 92 meters by 36 meters. The bow, identified by the remains of a capstan, rests in six meters of water, while the rudder, marking the stern, lies in approximately 27.5 meters of water.

Heritage Value

The remains of the Ericsson are recognized internationally – and particularly in Canada, the United States and Sweden – as a very important underwater heritage site.

The remains of the Ericsson are of particular national and international significance as the last surviving evidence of the only caloric ship ever built. This shipwreck provides valuable insight into one of the more fascinating inventions of the mid-nineteenth century: the caloric engine. Powered by hot air rather than steam, the caloric engine was designed by famous Swedish-American mechanical engineer John Ericsson. Evidence of the Ericsson's conversion to conventional steam power in 1854, and subsequently into a three-masted sailing ship in 1868, reflects the lack of success of the caloric ship engine, and the perseverance and innovation which allowed this vessel to become an important part of late-nineteenth century transportation and shipping history.

The location of this wreck off Cape Beale is also important, because it reinforces the reputation of this treacherous area as Canada's "Graveyard of the Pacific." The Ericsson was inbound for Nanaimo to load coal when she was lost in a gale on November 19, 1892.

The Ericsson is also valued for her role in American history. She served as an armed escort during the Civil War and as the funeral ship of U.S. President James Monroe.

Source: Province of British Columbia, Heritage Branch files

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Ericsson Shipwreck include:

- The context and location of the Ericsson shipwreck within the West Coast's infamous "Graveyard of the Pacific"
- Surviving elements of the caloric ship's construction including the iron grid framework, capstan, rudder, mast hoops, windlass, Downton bilge pump, deadeyes and other rigging items
- Remaining evidence of the ship's conversion from caloric engine power to steam power, and from steam to sail, partly illustrated by its final form: a three-masted sailing ship



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)

1853/01/01 to 1853/01/01
1892/01/01 to 1892/01/01
1868/01/01 to 1868/01/01
1854/01/01 to 1854/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Technology and Engineering
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation

Function - Category and Type




Architect / Designer

John Ericsson



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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