Ten years ago on March 22, 2006, at 12:23 am, passengers aboard the Canadian ferry, Queen of the North, were flung from their beds as the vessel veered off course and crashed into a rock at Juan Point off the coast of Gil Island. It was on its way from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. Ten minutes after the impact, the ship listed dangerously on the starboard side. One hundred and one passengers and crew were evacuated into life rafts, many were rescued by heroic Gitga’at First Nations people in fishing boats. At 1:40 am, the Queen of the North slipped underwater and disappeared. Passenger Graham Clarke, a marine service company executive, recalled the ancient maritime tradition of calling out three heartbreaking cheers, “Hip . . . Hip . . . Hurrah,” as she sank.
Passengers Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette were never seen again and were presumed to have drowned. The Queen’s navigation officer, Karl Lilgert, was convicted of criminal negligence. But questions still remain about what happened on that fateful night.
To read more, about passenger recollections ten years later, click here.
Don Douglass gives details on what happened that night, in Farewell to a Queen: The Mysterious Sinking of the Pride of the BC Ferries.