The Avenger of the People is an astonishingly detailed model of the famous French warship. French prisoners of war built this model during the Napoleonic period; she has been carved from the pork bones of the prisoners’ meager rations.
During the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815), Britain fought three wars with France, as well as separate conflicts with the United States and various European countries. Thousands of men were captured and imprisoned in prison hulks or castles and fortresses for years, even decades.
To fill in their idle hours and to make money to supplement a meagre allowance, the prisoners were allowed to make models to sell. Most models were made from whatever scraps were at hand, usually the pork and beef bones from the prisoners' rations. The bones were dried, cleaned and shaped to make hulls and fittings. Some models were ornately carved and quite detailed.
This model, of the French 74-gun ship of the line Le Vengeur du Peuple, was built by prisoners of war at Porchester Castle in 1798. In 1881 the model was acquired by the Science Museum in Kensington, London. The Science Museum sold the model at auction in 1934, and it passed into private hands. It was donated to the Vancouver Maritime Museum in 1996 and is on display in the museum.
The Arnold 176 chronometer, probably the Vancouver Maritime Museum's greatest treasure, was used by Captain George Vancouver during his five-year voyage of exploration in the Pacific from 1791 to 1795, which resulted in the charting of the Northwest Coast from California to Alaska.
The Arnold 176 was made by John Arnold in London, likely prior to 1787. Arnold numbered all of his time pieces, hence the name "Arnold 176." Chronometers were exceptionally accurate timepieces, used at sea to help navigators plot longitude. A slow or fast running chronometer would throw off the navigator's calculations, and could lead to shipwreck. Most ships carried four to five chronometers to check against each other.
Hands on fun awaits in an interactive setting that includes operating a submersible, the authentic reproduction of the bridge of a tugboat in English Bay, and the fo’c’sle of Captain George Vancouver’s ship Discovery.
The Ben Franklin is the first submersible built specifically to drift in ocean currents, and was also used as an analogue for extended space flight. The Gulf Stream Project involved six scientists living aboard the Ben Franklin for 30 days while drifting along the Gulf Stream in 1969, and was supported by NASA, the US Navy, and the Gunman Aircraft Engineering Corporation.
Master model builder, Lucian Ploias’s shop is located at the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Professional ship model building is a combination of passion, knowledge, patience, and love for the sea. Visitors to the museum have the unique opportunity to see new or older models in various stages of completion or restoration, and a master craftsman at work.
Lucian is in his workshop most weeks, Tuesday–Thursday. Please contact him directly for more information about his schedule or about model ship making.
The Maritime Museum operates the Heritage Harbour as an outdoor display of privately owned classic and heritage vessels. The Harbour is open during daylight hours and is an opportunity to see the boats up close and perhaps speak with boat owners about their maritime adventures.
The Oarlock and Sail Wooden Boat Club is a Vancouver-based club for enthusiasts of small wooden boats and operates out of a floating boat shed at the Heritage Harbour. Members can be found each Saturday morning restoring the club’s fleet of small wooden boats or working on a new build. See their website for updates on their various projects.http://www.woodenboatclub.ca/home/Oarlock_and_Sail_Home.html
Heritage Harbour is also the westernmost destination for False Creek Ferries, a passenger only ferry servicing the Museum, Granville Island, Science World and a number of stops in between. A regular daily schedule is maintained between the Maritime Museum and Granville Island in the summer and on weekends during the winter months. Check the False Creek Ferries website for the most current schedule and service updates. http://www.granvilleislandferries.bc.ca/