Thomas F. Bayard collection [textual records, graphic materials, moving images]

Collection number
1901-2007; predominantly 1978-2004
Physical description
0.65 meters of textual records; 171 photographs : b&w, col. ; 4x6”- 8x10”; 305 negatives : col. (35mm); 1 audio videocassette
Administrative history / Biographical sketch

The schooner Thomas F. Bayard was a wood-hulled, copper sheathed, two-masted schooner built in New York. She was designed and built by William Townsend, superintendent of the C&R Poillon Shipyard in Brooklyn. She was officially launched on March 13, 1880.

As a pilot schooner the Thomas F. Bayard was almost continually at sea for 16 years. In 1897 the Thomas F. Bayard was purchased by the Alaska Transport, Trading and Mining Company who used the vessel to transport miners and freight to Alaska. She was registered in Juneau and traded as far north as the mouth of Yukon River and far south as Seattle and Port Townsend.

When the gold rush ended in 1906 she was sold to Captain Hans Blakstad who used the Thomas F. Bayard as a sealer, registered out of Victoria, BC. The Thomas F. Bayard was one of a fleet of schooners that hunted seal and sea otter in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands and the northern islands of Japan and often sailed with Indian hunters and canoes aboard.

In 1913 the Thomas F. Bayard was purchased by the Department of Marine & Fisheries for use as a lightship at the mouth of the Fraser River. During this time her bowsprit and clipper bow were removed and replaced with a rounded bow. The Thomas F. Bayard was renamed Sandheads No. 16 and she guided freighters into New Westminster for 43 years until 1956.

After the Thomas F. Bayard was disposed of by Crown Assets, she had numerous owners and was eventually acquired by the Vancouver Maritime Museum in 1978 for $8,500.00. The vessel was towed to Sterling Shipyards where her counter was rebuilt and the planking and coppering renewed from 1979-1980. During this time the Thomas F. Bayard was recognized by the British Columbia Historical Trust as a Heritage Vessel. The museum received a $50,000.00 grant from the Heritage Trust that was used to further stabilize the vessel until funds for a full restoration could be raised.

In December 1983 the Thomas F. Bayard Restoration Committee was formed by a group of people who had an interest in the vessel. The goal of the committee was to restore the vessel to a sailing condition (the way she looked as a sealing vessel) and allow the public to view the vessel while moored at the Maritime Museum's Heritage Harbour. In 1990 the non-profit Thomas F. Bayard Restoration Society took the lead in trying to raise money to restore the vessel. During the coming years the Thomas F. Bayard would be refloated after sinking a number of times but, in September 2002 she grounded at low tide and heeled over in the navigation channel in False Creek. Salvors concluded that she could not be removed intact and she was removed from the water in pieces on September 27. Documentation teams from the U.S.-based International Yacht Restoration School, Mystic Seaport, and the Maritime Museum spent time documenting the remains of the hull before she was officially dismantled.

Scope & content

Records in this collection consist of materials related to the history of and preservation efforts for the Thomas F. Bayard. Records include correspondence, logbooks, reports, registry certificates, historical research on the vessel completed by John Crosse, survey reports and repair estimates, newspaper clippings and published journal articles about the vessel. Also included are records from the Thomas F. Bayard Restoration Society and the Thomas F. Bayard Restoration Committee – correspondence, financial statements, newsletters, reports, promotional materials, publications, meeting minutes, and similar records from the Vancouver Maritime Museum's efforts to acquire and restore the vessel.

Photographs in the collection include images of the Thomas F. Bayard being cleaned up and towed to her moorage location in False Creek, Vancouver prior to her sinking.

Records arranged by Archivist.
Related materials
  • For artifacts relating to the Thomas F. Bayard please consult the VMM Curator.
  • Additional records of the Thomas F. Bayard and Sandheads No. 16 can be found in the VMM photograph collection.
  • Additional plans and drawings can be found at the City of Vancouver Archives, VMM Ship Plan collection.
Related vessels
Thomas F. Bayard