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For Immediate Release
June 27, 2022

BC Ferries helping to get the "oldest sailboat in Canada" back in the water

VICTORIA – About 10 years ago, Dorothy and her weary wooden shell, caught a free ride on a BC Ferry headed to Gabriola Island. On June 28, 2022 Dorothy will take advantage of another complimentary trip, putting an end to her Gabriola sabbatical. A lot has changed during the decade long experience. Thanks to some restoration work, the 125-year-old beauty doesn’t look a day over 30, and her trip back to Vancouver Island will be on board a hybrid electric Island Class ferry, which should appeal to the environmental sensibilities of the oldest registered operational sailboat in Canada.

“Dorothy was the flagship of the Victoria Yacht Club and one of the very first yachts in the area,” says Angus Matthews former owner of Dorothy, and current board member for the Maritime Museum of BC “She was beautiful and graceful, and moved like a rocket.”

When the Maritime Museum of BC acquired Dorothy in 1995, age and the elements had taken some of the wind out of her sails. She needed some TLC, so in 2012 BC Ferries provided a free ride through its community investment program to ship the ship to a master “ship whisperer” on Gabriola Island.

“I became familiar with Dorothy while I was a judge at the Classic Boat Festival which is held in Victoria every Labour Day,” says Tony Grove, a shipbuilder, teacher, and artist who has called Gabriola home since 1999.

Grove agreed to store the boat while the museum raised money for the restoration and a temporary home for Dorothy. It has turned into a decade long chapter in what has been an interesting life story for the 30-foot sailboat.

Commissioned by W.H. Langley, Dorothy was built in Victoria in 1897 by ship builder John J. Robinson for $1800. One of her first accolades was winning Queen Victoria’s birthday regatta in 1900. A few years later Dorothy would sail into infamy. Her owner, Langley, was so sure of what he saw from the deck of the yacht that he signed an affidavit swearing to what may be the first official sighting of the legendary sea monster “Cadborosaurus”. That affidavit can still be found in the museum archives.

That excursion was followed by a long stretch at anchor during World War 1, which would result in the boat’s first rescue and restoration operation. It suffered a small fire in the 1940’s requiring more repairs. Angus Matthews and his wife Sandy would take ownership between 1973 and 1982, one of nearly a dozen owners throughout Dorothy’s existence. Grove is the most recent caretaker to breath fresh life into her old bones.

“As I worked on Dorothy it became clear that she was ‘overbuilt’ to some extent which has factored into her longevity,” Grove says. “With the restoration work done, and some regular maintenance Dorothy should have a lot of good years ahead.”

Dorothy hasn’t dipped her toe in the water in more than 20 years and will need a week at dock to allow her planks to expand before she can sail. The closure of the shipyard on Gabriola offers no good options to launch which is why BC Ferries is needed to get the boat to the big Island where Dorothy will travel by land to Ladysmith and her temporary port of call.

“A deal has been struck with the Ladysmith Maritime Society which will care for Dorothy until the Maritime Museum of BC can establish a permanent home,” says Matthews.

Dorothy will be accessible to the public as there are plans to run daytrips for visitors. Sea monster sightings are not guaranteed. On the horizon the Maritime Museum sees a permanent home in the Victoria Inner Harbour and the eventual return of Dorothy to the place she first cut through the water and drew the gazes of admiring onlookers more than a century ago.

BC Ferries’ Community Investment program was created to engage and support BC coastal communities and the employees who live in those areas. The program identifies social investments that make a difference in the communities in which the company operates and supports approximately 500 requests annually.

For more info on Dorothy you can visit:
Maritime Museum of BC
Tony Grove & Dorothy

For more info on BC Ferries Community Investment Initiatives:
BC Ferries Community

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Media Contact:
BC Ferries, Media Relations
Victoria: (250) 978-1267

Customer Contact:
Victoria: (250) 410-1465
Toll-free: 1-888-BCFERRY (1-888-223-3779)

Brittany Vis
Exec. Director, Maritime Museum of BC
250-385-4222 ext. 106

Note to newsrooms: For urgent media inquiries off-hours, call our emergency line at (250) 516-7211.

Dorothy inside Tony Grove’s workshop on Gabriola Island


Dorothy bound for Ganges Island - 1910

Queen’s Birthday Regatta trophy from 1900
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