The paint on the once-revered MV Lady Rose is peeling and her hull is rusting as she sits along a private dock in Tofino in May 2015. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

The paint on the once-revered MV Lady Rose is peeling and her hull is rusting as she sits along a private dock in Tofino in May 2015. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Alberni man wants to resurrect iconic MV Lady Rose

Sailor Mike Wright sees tourism potential in rusting ship

The iconic MV Lady Rose could be making a return to the Alberni Valley after six long years.

Boater Mike Wright presented a plan to the Port Alberni Maritime Heritage Society on Wednesday, Sept. 13 to bring the vessel back to Port Alberni as a floating museum and focal point for tourism.

Originally christened “Lady Sylvia,” the MV Lady Rose was built in Scotland and first launched in 1937. She was the first single-propeller diesel vessel ever to traverse the Atlantic under her own power. The vessel spent 70 years ferrying passengers and supplies from Port Alberni to Bamfield and Ucluelet, but had her route taken over by the MV Frances Barkley in 2007.

The boat has been sitting tied to a dock in Tofino since its last voyage down the Alberni Inlet in March of 2011. Current owner Jamie Bray planned to turn her into a floating restaurant in front of Jamie’s Whaling Station, but Bray instead purchased the Rainforest Inn in late 2011. Since that time, the Lady Rose has seen significant rusting and wear. It no longer looks like the ship that used to run the Barkley Sound.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” Wright admitted. “But when you do a good clean-up, things start to look better.”

Wright is offering to pay for some of the costs to bring the Lady Rose back to the Valley, and he is committed to a two-year business plan, but he is looking for some indication of support for the community.

“Community support is needed,” he said on Wednesday. “I don’t believe in going to the city for money.”

Wright suggested that a dry land berth might be the best option for the vessel, which is no longer in any condition to travel. “There’s a little cove behind the Port Boat House,” he said.

This is where the Port Alberni Port Authority has tentatively decided to install an oil spill-response base if Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project goes through, but Wright said he has received a letter of interest from PAPA.

Federal and provincial funding could be available for the Lady Rose as a heritage piece. Volunteer support would also be key. A Lady Rose Foundation could be started to turn it into something that pays for itself, and guided tours, corporate meetings and weddings on board could generate revenue.

Overall, Wright believes that the Lady Rose is an iconic piece of history that deserves more than to rust in the waters in Tofino.

Wright said he saw the Lady Rose during a recent trip to the west coast, and asked Bray how people in Port Alberni could get a hold of it. Bray offered to donate it.

“He wants to see it come here, too,” said Wright.

Wright’s enthusiasm was commended, but members of the heritage society brought up a number of concerns regarding asbestos content on the ship and the cost of having the vessel restored.

Alberni Valley Museum manager Jamie Morton said, “It’s a real problem getting volunteers involved. The McLean Mill Society is having this problem, too.”

Members of the heritage society pitched other possibilities for the Lady Rose, including a plan to beach the boat on Hohm Island, and another idea to make the vessel seaworthy again and send it back to Scotland in a documented process. But Wright was firm in his belief that he wants the ship to be “accessible” to the public.

The society agreed to consider Wright’s plan and get back to him with their decision. In the meantime, Wright will do more research into feasibility and put some work into cleaning the vessel.

Wright said he felt fairly optimistic following his conversation with the heritage society.

“I think it was intelligent, careful and positive,” said Wright. “A lot of it is about attitude.”

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Mike Wright speaks to members of the Marine Heritage Society on Wednesday, Sept. 13 about his plan to bring back the MV Lady Rose. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Mike Wright speaks to members of the Marine Heritage Society on Wednesday, Sept. 13 about his plan to bring back the MV Lady Rose. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

THE MV Lady Rose’s rusting hull is reflected in the water of Jamie’s Whaling Station’s docks in Tofino in May 2015. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

THE MV Lady Rose’s rusting hull is reflected in the water of Jamie’s Whaling Station’s docks in Tofino in May 2015. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Just Posted

Two of the heritage buildings from McLean Mill National Historic Site that have been restored at the Port Alberni tourist attraction. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
McLean Mill application breaks new ground for ALC

Process just another ‘misstep’ by city, says critic

Coulson Aviation’s newest Chinook helicopter, N43CU, takes to the air above the Alberni Valley Regional Airport following a complete airframe conversion into a helitanker, April 8, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY BILL MCLEOD)
Coulson Aviation’s newest helitanker takes flight

Converted Chinook helitanker off to U.S. for new paint job

Dave Cusson, Community Policing Manager with the City of Port Alberni, offers some tips for pedestrian safety in a Community Policing video. (SCREENSHOT)
City of Port Alberni on way to dubious pedestrian safety record

Pedestrian crashes a growing concern in Port Alberni

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

The PAGo Grannies have a table set up at a farmer’s market to sell handcrafted items to raise funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
PAGo Grannies promote nationwide concert for Stephen Lewis Foundation

Register online to watch Together in Concert starting April 15

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among other ventilation measures

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

MP Todd Doherty took to Facebook after his family recently received threats. (Todd Doherty, MP Facebook photo)
‘I don’t run and I don’t hide’: Cariboo MP says RCMP probing threats made against family

Todd Doherty has also notified House of Commons Protective Services

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

The music video for “Green and Blue” featured a Willington Care Centre in Burnaby as well as some of the volunteers and employees. (Screenshot/Todd Richard)
‘Green and Blue’: B.C. country musician releases tribute song for front-line workers

Richard’s new single has been viewed more than 3,000 times on his YouTube channel

An unidentified B.C. man said, in a human rights complaint, that he was refused a contract job after refusing to wear a mask when asked to by an on-site manager. (Unsplash)
Religious B.C. man lodges human rights complaint after fired for refusing to wear a mask

Worker’s claim that ‘to cover up our face infringes on our God-given ability to breathe’ dismissed by B.C. Human Rights Tribunal

This 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 was stolen from Black Creek Motors at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday, April 11. Photos via blackcreekmotors.com
VIDEO: B.C. car dealer posts clip of thieves towing a truck right off his lot

Video shows one white truck towing another off Vancouver Island lot

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read