Past Exhibits

 Field Trip Project

June 19 – September 15, 2014

Japanese BackpackThe Field Trip project is a unique Canada-Japan cultural art exchange that examines the Japanese tsunami of 2011. This beautiful traveling exhibit is designed to engage communities and create public awareness about the effects of the tsunami not only on Japanese communities but also here on our coast.  This exhibit was made possible due to funding through the BC Arts Council.

BC Arts Council logo

Canada’s Titanic – The Empress of Ireland

April 29 – October 20, 2014

EofI - 1 entranceGuests discovered the tale of Canada’s Titanic – The Empress of Ireland which sunk on May 29, 1914 with a tremendous loss of life. This exhibit told the story of a ship which was responsible for much of the immigration to Canada and the tragic story of her loss at sea.


Treasures from Within: Classic Boats

August 29 – September 30, 2014

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The Treasures from Within theme celebrated the diverse aspects of classic boats.  This display coincided with the Classic Boat Festival on Victoria’s Inner Harbour from Aug 29th to 31st.

Drawing on the diverse collection at the Maritime Museum of BC, Treasures from Within brought together some of our favourite artefacts normally not seen by Museum visitors. Each display reflected the eclectic scope of artifacts that have been collected and treasured over time telling BC’s connection to our waters.

Guardians of the Coast

October 23, 2012 – October 2014

TOFINO LB CAPE ANN at Cox Bay CC2-cpThe Maritime Museum of BC opened Guardians of the Coast on October 23 2012, honouring the men and women of the Canadian Coast Guard. In 2011, the Canadian Coast Guard celebrated 50 years of service and safety; however, their origins can be traced back to the early 1700s on the East Coast.

Guardians of the Coast: Celebrating more than 50 years of the Canadian Coast Guard on the Pacific, highlighted the earliest live-saving efforts on the Pacific Coast, from light stations to the West Coast trail and the pioneers who made the Canadian Coast Guard what it is today.

Visitors to the exhibit experienced a vast array of Canadian Coast Guard material, including photographs, early and new lifesaving equipment, courageous stories in dangerous storms and on high seas, and information on the latest research and Arctic trips.

We thank our sponsors:
Seaspan Marine Corporation | Virtual Marine Technology Ltd. | Canadian Coast Guard
Zodiac Hurricane Technologies | Scott Plastics Ltd. | Mustang Survival Gear
Nanaimo Port Authority | J&L Moving | Cloverdale Paint
Future Shop | Phillips Brewing Company

Featured Display: Treasures from Within

January 1 – February 28, 2014

WWII issued sneakersDrawing on the diverse collection at the Maritime Museum of BC, Treasures from Within brings together some of our favourite artifacts normally not seen by Museum visitors. Each display reflects the eclectic scope of artifacts that have been collected and treasured over time telling BC’s connection to our waters.

For the first display in this series, a day on the ocean is portrayed through items from the collection. From WWII-issued sneakers to Marine Passports, these well-worn objects tell the stories of adventures on the water.

Convoy PQ-17: The Art of History

October 18, 2013 – March 3, 2014

Convoy PQ-17 The Art of History

The Maritime Museum shares the story of one of the biggest maritime tragedies in World War II, convoy PQ-17 which carried relief supplies to the Russians and how the event inspired art in Canada generations later.

In July 1942, this convoy traveling from Iceland to Russia was attacked by German planes and submarines. Upon receiving intelligence, the escorts were ordered to withdraw and 22 out of the 33 ships in the convoy were sunk and 153 men were killed. Winston Churchill described the incident as “one of the most melancholy naval episodes in the whole of the war.”

One survivor of that fateful convoy was Joseph Coleman, father of choreographer Bill Coleman. Joe’s story later became the base for the Requiem for Convoy PQ-17, as conceived by his son Bill together with Victoria composer Christopher Butterfield whose father was also a merchant navy veteran.

In addition to telling the artistic story of the Requiem for Convoy PQ-17, the Maritime Museum of BC will honour merchant sailors who may have connections to PQ-17 as well as other sailors who served in convoys during World War II. The exhibit will give them or their families’ space to share their personal stories.

The exhibit, PQ-17: Art of History opened on October 18 and explores the artistic process behind the Requiem for Convoy PQ-17. It is presented as part of the Victoria and the Sea project in partnership with the Victoria Symphony and supported in part by the CRD Arts Development Service. The exhibit runs until March 3, 2014.

Creature Comforts

August – October 2013

ChristinapuzzleThe Maritime Museum of BC presented Creature Comforts, a traveling exhibit on loan from CFB Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum.

The exhibit focused on the stories of animals living aboard and celebrated the contributions of animals great and small to the history, spirit and welfare of Canada’s navy providing a special perspective on life at sea.

Floating on the Margins:
Chinese Life on the Canadian Pacific Passenger Liners

February – July 2013

Sailors and Chinese labourers aboard the C.P. R.M.S. Empress of India

Sailors and Chinese labourers aboard the C.P. R.M.S. Empress of India. Courtesey of the Chung Collection, UBC

To celebrate the 155th anniversary of Victoria’s Chinatown, the Maritime Museum was proud to present an exhibit which celebrated the important contributions that Chinese Canadians made to BC’s maritime heritage. With items from the Maritime Museum and UBC’s Chung collection, this special exhibition illustrated the lives of early Chinese Canadian sailors and passengers on the Canadian Pacific Passenger Liners.

The Wallace B. Chung and Madeleine H. Chung collection is one of North America’s most extensive collections on early immigration and settlement history in BC. Inspired by a poster of the RMS Empress of Asia that hung in his father’s tailor shop, Dr. Chung went on to amass a collection of over 25,000 items. These items greatly contribute to understanding the story of 19th century immigration from Asia to North America and the lives that early Chinese Canadians made for themselves upon arrival.

Ready Aye Ready!
The Artwork of Marine Artist Robert McVittie

April – August 2012

Ready, Aye ReadyBorn in England in 1935, Robert McVittie became one of the most celebrated marine artists in North America. He began his life at sea entering the Merchant Navy as a young man. Throughout this time, he began drawing and sketching the things around him to document his experiences. From then on, his career as a visual artist commenced.

Throughout his many years as an artist he achieved numerous accomplishments including becoming President of the Canadian Society of Marine Artists and receiving a commission by Northwest Territories Commissioner, Stuart Hodgson, to portray the marine history of the N.W.T. His beautiful paintings have also graced the collections of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, various Heads of State and numerous corporate collections.

In 1991, McVittie, then a designated war artist by the Department of National Defence, joined Operation Friction Task Force and saw the deployment of 4500 Canadian Forces to the Persian Gulf. His duty was to record the Navy’s operations through notes, photographs and videos that he later used in the creation of more impressive paintings.

Sadly, in 2002, Robert McVittie passed away from a long haul with leukemia. He has left behind a huge legacy and a lifetime of stunning artwork chronicling his many adventures. To honour this incredible man, the Maritime Museum of BC presented 22 spectacular works of Robert McVittie.

What Lies Beneath

January – August 2012
Now at the Campbell River Maritime Heritage Centre

The ocean; an expanse of water that covers more of the Earth’s surface than earth itself. It affects our weather, our food source, ultimately, our everyday life!

But what lies beneath this huge abyss? Are there really creatures that glow brightly like lights or ones that live in extreme pressure so high, it could crush a human in seconds? Can you hear the sound of a passing boat or the song of a whale underwater? Can a storm rage above and yet it be calm below?

Thanks to new technology in deep-sea diving and observatories on the ocean floor, we have a porthole into this vastly unexplored environment. Leading the way in this venture is Ocean Networks Canada through their VENUS and NEPTUNE underwater observatories located off Vancouver Island. Thanks to ONC’s innovation and pioneering in deep sea exploration – Canada and Vancouver Island has yet again been written into our maritime history.