Bowen Queen

Official No: 0323854
Place Built: Victoria, BC
Builder: Victoria Machinery Depot
Year Built: 1965
Date Launched: Nov. 15, 1965
Vehicles: 70
Passengers: 393
Crew: 7
Length: 84.96 m
Breadth: 18.65 m
Gross Tons: 1,475.68
Service Speed: 14 knots
Horsepower: 3,560


The Bowen Queen is a minor vessel operated by BC Ferries. She is classed as a Powell River Class ferry, named after one of her sister ships. The Bowen Queen along with her sister ships, the Mayne Queen and Powell River Queen were built from the same design in 1965 for BC Ferries. These ferries are very manoeuvrable due to having 2 engines at each end. Interestingly, the Bowen Queen is not the first BC Ferry to carry that name. The Vesuvius Queen was originally named Bowen Queen .


Today you will find the Bowen Queen on a variety of routes throughout the year. In the summer, she is operated as a secondary vessel on the Tsawwassen - Southern Gulf Islands route. At other times of the year, she is used as a relief vessel on numerous minor routes, replacing ferries that are out for refit or repairs. Over the past few years she has operated on the following routes: Swartz Bay - Southern Gulf Islands, Nanaimo - Gabriola Island, Campbell River - Quadra Island, Powell River - Texada Island, Horseshoe Bay - Bowen Island, Horseshoe Bay - Langdale, and Vesuvius - Crofton.

The Bowen Queen has limited amenities onboard, but does have washrooms and perhaps a vending machine or two. The ferry has three lounges: two small ones on either side and a larger one on the deck above them. There is also access to outside decks on each level, giving plenty of space to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.

The Bowen Queen is powered by four engines and propelled and steered through four right angle drives (RADs), one located in each quarter of the vessel. These engines allow the ferry to turn on a dime and even move sideways. For evacuation purposes, the ferry is equipped with a number of life rafts. There is also a rescue boat located on the outside of the main passenger deck.


The three Powell River Class ferries were built to operate on the new minor routes acquired by BC Ferries in the early 1960's. These vessels were built for approximately 1 million dollars each in 1965, and originally had a 50-car capacity. The Bowen Queen was built specifically for the Bowen Island route, and spent the first several years of her operational life on this route. In the early 1970's the Bowen Queen was the summer vessel for the Earl's Cove - Saltery Bay route. In 1979, the Bowen Queen along with her sisters were stretched and re-engined at a cost of 3 million each, increasing their vehicle capacity to 70.

Vehicle Capacity
Gross Tons
Service Speed

Before Stretching
13 knots

After Stretching
14 knots

Origin of Name

Bowen Queen - Named after Bowen Island, a populated island at the entrance of Howe Sound, just offshore of West Vancouver. The island is named after James Bowen, an officer with the British navy. ("Bowen Island" - Encyclopedia of British Columbia )

For Further Reading

Bannerman, Gary and Patricia. The Ships of British Columbia . Surrey: Hancock House Publishers, 1985.

Favelle, Peter. The Queens of British Columbia: a detailed account of the ships in the B.C. Ferry fleet . North Vancouver: Discovery Magazine, 1974.

Griffiths, Garth, and H.L. Cadieux. Dogwood Fleet . Nanaimo: Cadieux and Griffiths, 1967.

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