Kingsley Navigation Company collection [textual records, graphic materials] / Kingsley Navigation Company

Collection number
1912-1975; predominantly 1918-1974
Physical description
0.45 meters of textual records and graphic materials
Physical description note
129 photographs : b&w, col, 2.5x3.5” – 8x10”
Administrative history / Biographical sketch

The Kingsley Navigation Company Ltd. was established in 1918 as a subsidiary of the Pacific Lime Company Ltd. (incorporated in 1910), which owned the lime deposits at Blubber Bay, Texada Island, BC and had a plant on Granville Island. The company was named after E.D. Kingsley, President of the Pacific Lime Co. Kingsley Navigation built its first deep-sea ship, the E.D. Kingsley on the east coast in 1919 and in 1920 it started a regular service from BC ports to California. It carried a cargo of lime products and lumber and other diverse outbound cargoes including grain, pulp, canned fish, and asphalt roofing. Inbound manifests included varied cargoes such as salt, glycerin, asphalt, vegetables, canned goods, dried fruit and general cargo for Victoria and Vancouver. The company had its own deep-sea wharf at the foot of Campbell Avenue known as the Kingsley Wharf.

In 1924 Kingsley Navigation added the freighter Rochelie to its fleet and in 1928 the Texada (previously the El Cicuta). In 1929 the company acquired the coastwise service vessels of the Canadian Government Merchant Marine Ltd., including the freighters Canadian Coaster – renamed the Kingsley and the Canadian Observer – renamed the Rosebank. A third vessel, the Canadian Rover, was not operated by company and sold to the Coastwise Steamship and Barge Co. who renamed her the Bornite. After refit, the vessels carried oil and paper products from Powell River to California. With the addition of these vessels, the smaller E.D. Kingsley was sold and later renamed the Southholm. In 1938 the Rochelie was sold to a Hong Kong company and renamed the Kathleen Moller.

With its three remaining ships, Kingsley Navigation maintained its trade route until 1942 when the vessels were requisitioned for war service. After the war, Kingsley Navigation did not resume operating the ships so the vessels were sold and the company became a shipping agency only. The Pacific Lime Co. sold its interest and controlling shares were eventually acquired by Frank McNicholl. McNicholl joined Kingsley Navigation as the radio operator on the Canadian Coaster. He became the Freight Solicitor for Kingsley on the Prairies and later the company representative at San Pedro, California. In 1939 he was appointed Freight and Operating Manager and in 1947, the President and Chief Executive Officer. By the 1970s McNicholl had become the chief shareholder of the company and in 1974 oversaw its sale and transition to the Olympic Steamship Co. of Seattle. Although Olympic Steamship now owned them, the Kingsley corporate name remained and they operated independently under local management. In 1988 Kingsley Navigation was sold again to Vancouver-based Greer Shipping Ltd.

Kingsley Navigation acted as agents for a number of well-known steamship companies – their first contract was in 1922 with the McCormick S.S. Co. of San Francisco. Over the years they handled other lines, some of which included the Canadian Gulf Line Ltd, Puget Sound Freight Lines, Showa Line, Nippo Kisen Co., Gypsum Carrier Inc., Belships Co. Ltd, China Merchants Steam Navigation Co., Stove Shipping, Herukuni Kaiun Kaisha Ltd, Chapman & William Ltd., and Sigurd Herlofson & Co.

Scope & content

The collection consists of records related to the corporate history of the Kingsley Navigation Company and includes minutes and special resolutions from Director’s and Shareholders’ meetings; lists of shareholders and directors; contracts and stock certificates; correspondence by Frank McNicholl about the sale of the company; newspaper clippings and journal articles about the history of the company; and a logbook containing notices and instructions to the company’s Masters about the operation of vessels and the transportation of cargo. Also included are some personal records belonging to Frank McNicholl – a certificate of discharge from the Canadian Army Reserve and a manual he used as a radio operator while serving on the Canadian Trooper.

Photographs in the collection consist of company business events (dinners), staff and social functions. Included are images of unidentified ships at sea, shipyards, ships crews at work. The only identifiable vessels are the Kingsley, Canadian Trooper, and the P&O Liner Mooltan. There are a number of unidentified persons in some of the photographs (from Frank McNicholl’s personal collection?) as well as staff photographs from the Showa Line Company, Nissan Line Company, and the McCormack Steamship Company.

Records arranged by Archivist.
Related materials
See donor file "McNicholl, Cpt. George"