"Sisters of the Ice"
Sisters of the Ice
by R. Bruce Macdonald
About the Book
This book is a biography of two British Columbian ships that performed legendary service in the Canadian Arctic. The St. Roch, now on permanent display at the Vancouver Maritime Museum, is the better known of the two, although North Star of Herschel Island is still sailing and still adding to her legend. Historian Bruce Macdonald—who, along with his wife, owns North Star of Herschel Island—has meticulously researched the origins and service logs of each ship and created a book that will enthrall old Arctic hands, maritime history buffs and anyone who appreciates well-written Canadian history.
Under the command of Captain Henry Larsen, the sturdy RCMP vessel St. Roch spent years showing the Canadian flag in the Arctic, performing many duties including delivering medical supplies and taking census information in addition to enforcing the law in the North. St. Roch is world renowned for achieving many firsts, including being the first vessel through the Northwest Passage west to east, the first vessel to navigate the passage in both directions and the first vessel to circumnavigate North America. Inspired by St. Roch, renowned trapper and Inuit leader Fred Carpenter and his trapping partner, Fred Wolki, designed the elegant North Star, the ultimate ice vessel used to transport furs, winter supplies and people between remote Banks Island and the mainland. Together, these two iconic ships helped unify Northern communities, solidify Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic and create a living symbol of Canadian identity.
In Sisters of the Ice, Macdonald documents in vivid detail the adventurous histories of these two vessels, as well as the history of the Northern communities in which they gained renown. Detailing daring escapes from dangerous ice conditions to thrilling sea voyages to raucous whaling towns, Macdonald reveals the perilous and often lawless climate in which these vessels operated and the ties of Canadian identity that they helped forge.