Maritime Museum eyes trade with Bateman Gallery

Bateman Gallery / Maritime Museum

A view of Canadian Pacific Railway Steamship Terminal on Belleville Street in Victoria. The building currently houses the Bateman Gallery but will soon become the new home of the Maritime Museum of B.C.

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer — The Maritime Museum of British Columbia and the Bateman Gallery await approval for their planned house swap.

The museum, currently in a retail space on Douglas Street, is looking to double its floor space by moving to the Canadian Pacific Railway Steamship Terminal (CPRST) on Belleville Street.

Jamie Webb, Maritime Museum President and the Senior Protocol Officer at Maritime Forces Pacific, said the CPRST is an ideal spot for his organization to boost its profile as a more prominent tourist destination.

“As a maritime centre, we need to be on the ocean and we had our eyes on the steamship building for more than a decade,” Webb said.

While the museum looks for a new home, most of its collection is stored at its archive building in Saanich. Webb said a home at the CPRST would finally give the museum a chance to show more of its artifacts.

The archive contains approximately 35,000 objects, including model ships; military and naval uniforms; navigation instruments; and one of North America’s largest nautical libraries. The museum also boasts three historic sailboats, which it plans to dock on the water next to its new home. The Tilikum was converted from a whaling canoe to a three-mast schooner in 1901; the Dorothy, a 30-foot yacht built in 1897, is the oldest sailboat on Canada’s West Coast; and the Trekka, which launched into Victoria Harbour in 1954 and five years later became the smallest vessel to circumnavigate the globe.

The museum, which began in 1955, previously occupied the Lookout Newspaper’s current home on Signal Hill until 1965, when it moved to Bastion Square. Over eight years ago, it left its Bastion Square location and has been searching for a permanent home since.

Before their trade gets a green light, it needs approval from Victoria City Council and the blessing of the Steamship Terminal owners, B.C. Ministry of Transportation.

Webb said the museum is willing to work with the province and can be flexible as the ministry re-builds the Belleville terminal to house the Clipper passenger ferry to Seattle. Some aspects of the ferry operation, such as U.S. Customs administration, will also be housed in the Steamship terminal during renovations.

“The move is an amazing opportunity for us and we eagerly await the support of the Province of B.C. to make this happen,” said Webb.

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