RUSHTON, Gerald (1898-1993)




Author Tags: Essentials 2010, Maritime

QUICK REFERENCE ENTRY:

Gerald A. Rushton’s classic history of the Union Steamship Company, Whistle Up the Inlet (1974), was followed by his illustrated history of “the lifeline of the coast,” Echoes of the Whistle, in 1980. Founded in 1889, the Union Steamship Company developed a fleet of more than 40 vessels that stopped at almost every community and inhabited cove from Vancouver to Alaska, including the Queen Charlotte Islands, providing passenger and cargo services. The service began in response to the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway on the West Coast. The cross-Canada railway connection enabled the enclave of Gastown to be transformed into the port of Vancouver—and Vancouver began to rival Victoria as a transportation hub. Therefore, the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand decided to introduce a maritime transportation link between Vancouver and Australasia. With the support of the New Zealand–based company, the Burrard Inlet Towing Company was absorbed by the Union Steamship Company of B.C. Three freighters from Scotland were built in sections and reassembled in Vancouver. British shareholders also raised money for the passenger steamer, Cutch. The funnel colours and livery of the New Zealand firm were copied in Vancouver.

Union Steamships ceased operations on the West Coast on December 31, 1958. The remaining fleet was sold to the Northland Navigation Co. The gap in the transportation market for car ferries was partially filled by the Puget Sound–based Black Ball Ferries until the B.C. government in 1961 bought and renamed five Black Ball ships on behalf of the B.C. Toll Highway and Bridge Authority, for $6,690,000, giving rise to the “Dogwood fleet” of B.C. Ferries.

The main chronicler of the Union Steamship Company, Gerald Arnold Rushton, was born in Liverpool in 1898. After studying classics and fighting in France during WWI, he came to B.C. in 1920 and worked for Union Steamships as an office manager for 38 years. He died in Tsawwassen in 1993. Former Union Steamships purser Arthur Twigg published Union Steamships Remembered, 1920–1958 (1997), a reference work devoted to ships and personnel. He had worked in the purser’s office aboard every ship in the fleet that plied the coast between 1942 and 1950.


FULL ENTRY:

With the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1887, the West Coast enclave of Gastown was transformed into the international port of Vancouver—and Vancouver began to rival Victoria as a transportation hub. The Union Steamship Company of New Zealand introduced service connecting Vancouver with Australasia. With support from the New Zealand firm, the Burrard’s Inlet Towing Company became the Union Steamship Company of B.C. British shareholders raised money for a passenger steam, Cutch, and three freighters from Scotland were built in sections and reassembled in Vancouver. So arose the lifeline of the coast, based on a prototype in New Zealand, and adopting its funnel colours and livery.

Founded in 1889, the Union Steamship Company developed a fleet of more than forty vessels that stopped at almost every community and inhabited cove from Vancouver to Alaska, including the Queen Charlotte Islands, providing passenger and cargo services, until it ceased operations on December 31, 1958. The remaining fleet was sold to the Northland Navigation Co. The gap in the transportation market for car ferries was partially filled by the Puget Sound-based Black Ball Ferries until the B.C. government bought and renamed five Black Ball ships on behalf of the B.C. Toll and Bridge Authority for $6,690,000 in 1961, giving rise to the “dogwood fleet” of B.C. Ferries.

The main chronicler of the Union Steamship Company, Gerald Arnold Rushton, was born in Liverpool on July 20, 1898. After studying classics and fighting in France during World War One, he came to B.C. in 1920 and worked for the Union Steamship Company as an office manager for 38 years. He died in Tsawwassen on November 12, 1993. Rushton’s classic history of the Union Steamships, Whistle Up the Inlet (1974), was followed by an illustrated history in 1980. [Former U.S.S. purser Arthur Twigg worked in the Purser’s office aboard every ship in the fleet that plied the coast between 1942 and 1950. He published Union Steamships Remembered, 1920-1958 (1997), a reference work, devoted to ships and personnel, now out-of-print.]

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Whistle Up the Inlet

BOOKS:

Whistle Up the Inlet (D&M, 1974)

Echoes of the Whistle: An Illustrated History of the Union Steamship Company (D&M, 1980).

[BCBW 2010]