Bowen Heritage Archival Photos

Terminal Steamship Company Ltd. (1902-1920)

Terminal's founder, Captain John Andrew Cates (1866-1942) was born in Maine and came to Nova Scotia as a boy.  Running away from home at age 12, he signed on as a cabin boy on a sailing vessel and spent most of his life at sea.  He made his stake in the Klondike, bringing back enough to set himself up with a small steamer named Defiance, with which he began a ferry service in Howe Sound.  By 1902, he and partners formed Terminal Steamship Company Ltd.  Cates' brother George built Terminal's flagship, the Brittania, in False Creek.  Launched in July, 1902, the Brittania carried 350 passengers in separate ladies' and men's salons and boasted a dining lounge and promenade deck.  She opened up Bowen Island as a tourist resort.

Cates had acquired the Mannion estate in Deep Bay on Bowen Island in 1900 and set about creating a playground for Vancouver.  Picnic grounds, an inn called the Hotel Monaco, a full farm and orchard operation were among the earliest improvements.  As tourism increased, Cates bought additional vessels, including the Belcarra (1906), the Baramba (1909), Bowena (1912) and the Ballena (1914).

The company re-organized in 1908 as the Terminal Steam Navigation Company Ltd. with new capital, and Cates continued to build his Bowen assets.  He added cottages to accommodate the growing market for long-term stays; fashioned a salt-water "pool" in Deep Bay; built the Terminal Hotel and expanded the farm.  He added several new picnic grounds--in all, some 900 acres were developed.

An affable man and a great promoter, Jack Cates brought countless thousands of visitors to Bowen before selling the company in 1920.  By that time, his holdings were said to be worth $250,000.  His name lives on at Cates Bay on Bowen, where he bought property in 1924.  

The Union Steamship Company (1889-1959)

In 1920, Captain Cates sold his holdings to the Union Steamship Company, whose fleet of passenger/cargo steamers continued and expanded the trade.  In 1924, USSC launched its new flagship, the Lady Alexandra and that ship, together with the others of the "Lady" class (including Cynthia, Cecilia and Pam) continued to serve a tourist trade that was increasingly luxurious:  the Lady Alexandra offered dancing, dining and a full service bar to its passengers.  At the time, there was nowhere in Vancouver where men and women could legally dine and drink alcohol together: even though prohibition ended in 1921, arcane liquor laws allowed only beer to be served in public and that only to men, seated, in dingy rooms that offered neither food nor entertainment.  The diversions offered on the Lady Alexandra must have been intoxicating in every sense of the word:  there are reports of the ship's crew stacking inebriated passengers like cordwood on the docks on arrival at Bowen!