Vancouver, 5 September 1893

After the beautiful evening, a dense fog appeared as a herald of the close coast. Already at 4 o’clock in the morning fog signals of our ship given with the steam whistle and siren in five minute intervals. As one could hardly see from the middle of the ship to the fore, the commander did not dare to continue the journey but had the machine stopped and awaited the morning while continuously sending out acoustic signals. At dawn our identification signal was whistled and soon repeated by a fog horn of a signal station at the coast — a convincing proof for the precision of the navigation on board. At 9 o’clock in the morning we finally started moving again, an hour later veiled contours of mountains became visible and we now could drive again at full speed. In time, the rays of the rising sun pierced the fog so that more and more some contours of the coast, mountains and wooded slopes could be recognized.  Further signs of land was the copious driftwood we saw, among it mighty cedar trunks. Many white butterflies were fluttering around the ship and also small birds paid a visit to our rigging from time to time.

The fog lifted, blue spots became visible in the sky and we saw, even though there still was a layer of fog on the sea, quite clearly the quite high coast of the American continent and could perceive even with the naked eye mighty spruces, cedars and thujas whose high trunks rose straight up. Small white houses of settlers were gleaming under the dark green of the trees.

„Empress“ steered into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca that separated the British island Vancouver from the mainland of the United States, Washington state, so that we had at the same time territories of two states in front of us. The sun provided agreeable warmth and after a number of cool days the passengers were comfortably sunning on deck.

Towards 2 o’clock in the afternoon a trumpet signal announced that Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, had become visible and soon we anchored in the harbor. The city is situated on the South-east coast of Vancouver island and Victoria harbor entertains vivid trade and shipping as a mutual place of exchange for ocean and river steamers with the harbors of the Strait of Georgia and Fraser river. The bay offers a quite friendly view. Around the bay the city is built on a ring of green hills and islands. The city reveals at first glance its modern American character: the streets run straight, the houses are mostly built out of wood in a tasteless fashion, painted reddish and covered by a forest of pillars that carry a network of telegraph and telephone wires as well as the cables for the electric lighting. In the harbor, the masts and parts of the aft of the sunk steam boat „San Pedro“ protruded sadly out of the sea.

Our stay in front of Victoria lasted but one hour that was spent for the medical examination by the harbor administration and the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers. For this purpose the giant harbor wheel steamer „Yosemite“ whose beam engine towered over the deck approached the „Empress“ closely. Apart from the passengers embarking to Vancouver there were also a whole crowd of nosy persons on board and long before the steamer had docked, a lady shouted from it who among the travellers was the prince. But I did not grant her the pleasure of my appearance and thus she had to return on land without having seen me.

Right from the first approach to America we had be exposed to one of the plagues of this country —  reporters who are notorious for their unavoidable aggressiveness and wanted to interview us immediately. The departure of „Yosemite“ shut off this fruitless undertaking and we too hoisted the anchor, steering through a number of smaller islands that presented themselves quite picturesque with their beautiful trees breathed upon by the blueish mist of the evening air. In a small channel we encountered the maneuvering English Pacific Squadron, — consisting of the flagship „Royal Arthur“, a mighty armored ship of 7700 t, a corvette and two gunboats — intended primarily to protect the fishing industry in the Bering sea and which is stationed in Esquimalt, about 48 km South-west of Victoria.

In the Strait of Georgia we enjoyed one of those rare beautiful sunsets. The sun showed itself almost in a Nordic way as a  crimson ball in the foggy air before it disappeared behind the mountains of Vancouver island. The purple contours of the islands created a sharp contrast to the evening sky.

To recover the delays from this morning caused by the fog, we drove at full speed on all boilers so that we managed up to 18 sea miles per hour. The second captain told me with a smile that the the commander and the first machinery engineer had only recently been married and where doing their utmost to reach their home in Vancouver as quickly as possible. I found this marital bliss very touching and very agreeable for all passengers as we thus could expect to land already in the evening. Quite many maritime journey would come to an end more quickly if the ship captain only had been married recently.

We still had to pass through a narrow channel. Then we saw many electric lights that indicated the presence of a harbor nearby. At 10 o’clock in the evening the „Empress“ moored at a mole, on which I immediately, despite the darkness, discovered Imhof who was expecting the arrival of the ship and whom I was to meet here. What a joy to meet a good friend, after such a long absence from home, who comes directly from there to us! No wonder that Imhof still had to answer our questions deep into the night and had to give us all kinds of news. That he also brought the mail, made him doubly welcome.

The hotel we stayed in which was also owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company instantly showed the discomforts of American hotels we were already expecting: The bad or better said non-existing service, the annoying ban on smoking and the lack of salons and smoking rooms where one could while away some time after dinner. Finally the cooking. I am certainly no gourmand and count eating among the least of life’s pleasures. Anyhow I can not become friends with the English way of cooking that is used in America too. All roasts are prepared in the same manner „à Ia roast beef“ and are notable for their one and only taste, the vegetables are only boiled with water and another dessert than the inevitable pudding seems to be totally unknown.

Links

Wiener Salonblatt No. 37 notes the safe arrival of Franz Ferdinand in Vancouver.

Wiener Salonblatt No. 37 notes the safe arrival of Franz Ferdinand in Vancouver.

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