Canadian coin marks sinking of SS Princess Sophia
- Published: Oct 19, 2018, 11 AM
The worst maritime disaster in the Pacific Northwest occurred 100 years ago, when the SS Princess Sophia sank off the coast of Juneau, Alaska, on its way to Canada.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the tragedy, a special museum exhibit is touring the Pacific Northwest. In addition, the Royal Canadian Mint has issued a colored silver coin.
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The Canadian Pacific Steamships Line coastal liner struck Vanderbilt Reef, near Juneau, Alaska, on Oct. 24, 1918, and started taking on water within sight of the shoreline. The ship sank a day and a half later, after its more than 350 passengers and crew waited patiently for rescue that never occurred; all aboard were killed.
Beginning in 1901, Canadian Pacific Railway ran a line of steamships along the west coast of Canada and the southeast coast of Alaska.
Their route from Victoria, British Columbia, and Vancouver, wound through the channels and fjords along the coast, stopping at the principal towns for passengers, cargo, and mail. Still important today, this route is called the Inside Passage.
SS Princess Sophia was a steamship of 2,320 tons gross and 1,466 tons net register, built by Bow, McLachlan and Company at Paisley, Scotland. A strong, durable vessel, it was built of steel with a double hull.
In a press release, Jennifer Camelon, interim president and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint, said: “The Royal Canadian Mint is proud to craft coins that illustrate and preserve the full spectrum of the Canadian experience, including a rich seafaring history. Through this coin, the Mint is able to increase awareness of the incredible story of SS Princess Sophia, while honouring all those who were lost on her last voyage.”
The Proof .9999 fine silver $20 coin features a dramatic depiction of “the unknown Titanic of the West Coast” by Canadian maritime artist Yves Bérubé.
His choice of colors convey the challenging conditions in the early morning of Oct. 24, 1918, when a blinding snow storm pushed the SS Princess Sophia in a fateful collision course toward a reef hidden by the high tide.
The scene, showing the moment of impact, is framed by engraved cartography of Lynn Canal, the Alaskan inlet where the tragedy struck. Completing the reverse design is an innovative nautical rope motif engraved to the edge.
The obverse features the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.
The coin weighs 31.39 grams and measures 38 millimeters in diameter.
Limited to a worldwide mintage of 6,000 pieces, the coin retails for $114.95 Canadian.
To order, visit the Royal Canadian Mint website at www.mint.ca.
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