The tale of the SS Valencia’s sinking off the coast of southern Vancouver Island continues to haunt West Coast maritime lore. A new exhibition at the Maritime Museum of BC explores just what happened.
After a year-long delay due to the pandemic, SS Valencia: ‘A Theatre of Horror’ opened in March and continues to Sept. 2 2021.
The shipwreck of the SS Valencia remains one of the worst maritime disasters in an area along Vancouver Island’s west side known as “The Graveyard of the Pacific.”
Sailing under the flag of the Pacific Coast Steamship Company, the ship was making its way from San Francisco to Seattle in January 1906 when low visibility, high winds and strong waves made navigation challenging. The ship struck a reef on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island and in the confusion and challenging conditions that followed, more than 100 people perished.
The Valencia’s tragic tale lives on – there are ghost stories linked to the events and the sinking has captured the attention of an international audience.
But what actually played out during this dramatic sinking? How did this “theatre of horror” drag on for 40 hours? What are the human stories behind the infamous scene of the shipwreck?
SS Valencia: ‘A Theatre of Horror’ tells the story of the SS Valencia and considers what conditions led to such a horrific ending. Visitors will meet a cast of characters thrown together by fate, hear the human stories behind the tragedy and consider what effect trauma had on the events.
Visitors will also see objects recovered from the Valencia wreck, including some of mysterious circumstances.
You’ll find the museum at 634 Humboldt St. in downtown Victoria.
Please note that Provincial Health Protocols currently advise against travelling outside your region to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
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