H.M.S. New Zealand at Vancouver, 1913

CVA 99-1200.5: View of the deck of H.M.S. New Zealand, ca1913. Stuart Thomson photo.

This post will showcase a few of the photos made by Vancouver photographer, Stuart Thomson, in 1913 on the occasion of a visit to the city of H.M.S. New Zealand.

The ship had been funded by New Zealand as a gift to Britain and was launched in 1911. It was a battlecruiser of the indefatigable class. Commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1912, it was sent on a 10-month goodwill tour of British dominions in 1913. It arrived in Vancouver on July 27th and stayed here for a week, after which it left for Victoria.

The image above shows Captain Lionel Halsey and other crew on the deck of the New Zealand.

CVA 99-1197: H.M.S. New Zealand at anchor in Burrard Inlet, 1913. Stuart Thomson photo.

While Mayor Baxter may have got a little carried away when referring to the visit as epoch-marking, there was no question that the coming of the New Zealand was a big deal. Among the events to help celebrate the arrival: the I.O.D.E. (Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire) had planned a ball; the Thoroughbred Association had organized a day at Minorou Racetrack (in Richmond), the Canadian Club would stand Captain Halsey a lunch (he would pay for his meal by delivering a talk, subsequently), and His Worship himself declared Saturday, August 2 to be a Public Half Holiday, whereby all businesses were to close between noon and 6pm “to enable all citizens to witness the parade of the crew of H.M.S. New Zealand to Brockton Point grounds” and the later sports at Coal Harbour.

Daily World, 29 July 1913. (What, pray, is “Balkan Style” in this context?)
CVA 99-1200: H.M.S. New Zealand forward main armament, 1913. Stuart Thomson photo.

Among the countries visited by the New Zealand prior to and after Victoria (not all ports of call were British dominions), were: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Tasmania, Fiji, Hawaii, Panama, Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Jamaica, Bermuda, and then back to its home port of Portsmouth, England.

CVA 99-347: H.M.S. New Zealand, Pelorus Jack, Mascot, 1913. Stuart Thomson photo.

The photo above shows the New Zealand’s mascot, Pelorus Jack. The bulldog was named for a dolphin that was famous for escorting ships into New Zealand’s harbour. There were two mascots of the H.M.S. New Zealand over its 10 years of service. This was the first one.

CVA 99-1200.6: An officer (Captain Lionel Halsey of H.M.S. New Zealand) and civilians on a small boat at the Coal Harbour dock. Denman Arena is in the background. 1913. Stuart Thomson photo.

The images immediately above and below this paragraph relate to the sports that were held on the Public Half Holiday at Coal Harbour. Captain Halsey is rightmost in the photo above; he is also visible in the diving photo below (to the left of the platform wearing his Captain’s hat, as usual). Who was making the attractive leap from the diving board, I do not know. Other sports anticipated for the holiday included: sock race, three-legged race, gun wheel race (that one is a mystery to me), and tug-of-war.

CVA 99-1200.7 – A man diving off a high board with crowd watching, 1913. Stuart Thomson photo.

All of the photos in this post were made by Stuart Thomson, and were probably among his earliest professional images. He arrived in Vancouver from his birth country of Australia in 1910. Within a couple of years of arriving in Vancouver, he had launched his photography business. Already, in evidence is his custom of shooting pin-sharp, well-exposed and composed photos. A video tribute to early Vancouver photographers is viewable here.

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