Our History

Celebrating over 40 years of Bringing People Together
Our History - Over 40 years of service
BC Ferries started out with two ships, two terminals, and around 200 employees.

Today, BC Ferries has 36 vessels, and up to 47 destinations. Schedules include frequent, year-round sailings to some of the most fun, fascinating and often remote corners of the coast. The staff complement now exceeds 4700 in the summer months, and their commitment to customer safety and service has never been stronger.

These web pages give you a quick look at our history. You'll read about why BC Ferries was established, and how, with plenty of hard work and a pioneering spirit, our people have met the challenge of an ever-increasing demand for service.

We hope you'll enjoy this story of how one of the largest, most sophisticated ferry systems in the world came to be. Please contact us if you have anything you think we should add. We'd particularly like to hear from you with stories of your first experience with BC Ferries.

In the meantime, read on and enjoy a ride through 40 years of coastal service!

Before BC Ferries
Ferry service on the west coast of British Columbia has a long and proud maritime history.

A spirit of free enterprise was present at the start, with the Hudson's Bay Company as the early pioneer of regular passenger and freight service between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland in the mid 1800's. By 1901, Canadian Pacific Railway had taken over ferry service across the Strait of Georgia and continued transporting passengers and vehicles on a five-hour journey between downtown Vancouver and downtown Victoria until the 1960's.

Further north, the Black Ball Line had arrived on the scene in the early 1950's to offer service between Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver and Departure Bay in Nanaimo, as well as to the Sunshine Coast and Jervis Inlet south of Powell River. The company had been established by Captain Alexander Marshall Peabody, whose family's Puget Sound Navigation Company was a key player in the development of British Columbia shipping.

Recognizing the need for continued reliable ferry service on the West Coast in the late 1950's, Premier W.A.C. Bennett announced on July 18, 1958, that the British Columbia Ferry Authority would take over service under mandate from the provincial government.

Before BC Ferries