Edward Crawford Swank fonds [textual records, graphic materials]

Supplied title note
Title based on provenance of fonds.
Fonds number
1821-1962, predominantly 1916-1958
Physical description
12 cm of textual records, 8 photographs, and 23 negatives
Administrative history / Biographical sketch

Edward Crawford Swank was born September 13, 1890 in Omaha, Nebraska. His prolific career on the sea began in 1907 as a deckhand for the Canadian Pacific Coast Service fleet. Edward married Elizabeth May Thomas on June 15, 1912 in Nanaimo, BC. On July 27,1916 Swank received his certificate of naturalization, becoming a British Subject. That same year he joined the Royal Canadian Navy and served on the HMCS Malaspina and on other ships in the Atlantic. After serving for two years and earning certification as "Mate" in the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve, he returned to the CPR, transferring to their Ocean Service fleet.

In 1919 he left service to write his Master's papers which he received on August 5, 1919 with certification as "Master of a Passenger Steamer". Swank's first job as a ship's Master was with Thompson Howe Sound Navigation which was late taken over by the Union Steamships Company. In 1922 he joined the Grand Trunk Pacific Line (later called Canadian National Steamships). In 1942 he joined the B.C. Steamship Line (later known as Northland Navigation), running to Alaska for the United States Army. In 1945 he joined the Frank Waterhouse Company which was later absorbed by Union Steamships Ltd. Swank sailed on all of the Union Steamship freighters and was Master of their flagship Cassiar before his retirement on December 6, 1957.

Edward and Elizabeth May (1894-1976) resided at 2903 Kathleen Street, in Burnaby, British Columbia and until Edward's death on July 8, 1970.

Swank’s maritime career includes the following appointments:

Position Ship Dates
Deckhand/3rd Officer CPR Princess Royal 1907 - 1913
Mate T&B June 3, 1913 - May 10,1916
2nd Officer CPR Queen City June 29, 1916 - Sept 27,1916
3rd Officer CPR Princess Charlotte Sept - Dec 1916
3rd Officer SS Prince Adelaide Sept 30, 1916 - Jan 31, 1917
2nd Mate/2nd Officer HMCS Malaspina Dec 1916 - April 1918
Mate HMCS Seagull (Trawler 26) April 1917 - June 1918
Mate Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve Dec 1, 1917 - Dec 20,1918
Mate in Command HMCS TR 26 July 1918 - Nov 1918
3rd Officer CPR Princess Charlotte 1918 - 1919
4th Officer/3rd Officer RMS Empress of Asia 1919 - 1920
3rd Officer Princess Alice Mar 12, 1919 - April 15,1919
Captain SS Marine Express No.1 August 1919 - Nov 1, 1919
Chief Officer SS E.D. Kingsley April 12,1920 - July 17, 1920
Master SS Marine Empress No.1 1920
Master Newcastle No.6 April 1920 - March 1921
Chief Officer SS Talarite April 20,1921 - Aug 4,1921
Officer Prince John 1922
Master SS Talarite July 6, 1921 - Feb 15, 1922
Chief Officer SS Talarite Feb 15, 1922 - May 18,1922
3rd Officer SS Prince Albert July 1,1922 - July 21, 1922
Captain Kiltuish Aug 14,1922 - March 27,1923
3rd Officer SS Prince Rupert Aug 16, 1926 - June 1, 1928
3rd Officer SS Prince George Sept 1929
2nd Officer/3rd Officer SS Prince John Oct 7, 1929 - Nov 29,1929
3rd Officer SS Prince Charles Dec 4, 1929
Master M/V Chief Takush June 17, 1936 - Aug 10, 1936
2nd Mate SS Griffco Dec 27,1939 - Dec 5, 1940
2nd Officer/3rd officer SS Rosebank May 21, 1941 - Oct 21,1941
Chief Officer/ Master SS Island Prince Nov 13, 1942 - Nov 13, 1944
Captain Chilkoot 1956
Master Cassiar 1957
Scope & content
The fonds consists of textual and graphic records created and received by Edward Swank during his private life and as a prominent member of British Columbia's maritime community. Included are photographs, negatives, personal correspondence, certificates, identification cards, service reference letters, letters of appointment, certificates of discharge, notebooks, crew lists, copies of logbook entries, accounts and wages forms, doctor's letters for various seamen, and ship repair lists.

The original order of the records is unknown as they were salvaged from disorganized and scattered piles all over the floor of the Swank house. In order to facilitate their prompt removal, they were arbitrarily boxed and brought to Vancouver Maritime Museum. A number of years later, David Stone, a museum volunteer, re-boxed and organized the records, stabilized fragile documents, and filled out an "Archive Record Note" for each record.

In October 2002 the formal arrangement and description of the Swank records was completed by an archivist, Lisa Beitel. Based on the known history of the records the decision was made to organize the records chronologically into two series. The original box list has been retained and is available at the end of the finding aid.