Tyson’s Thoughts: Queen of the North Memories

Gazette Editor Tyson Whitney reflects on his summer spent working on the Queen of the North.

I worked on the Queen of the North for a summer before it sank.

Living on the boat with the crew was incredibly hilarious due to all the behind the scenes drama/hijinks I saw (none of which is eligible for print without me worrying about getting sued), while my job itself was fairly dull, as all I did was sit at a desk and book hotels for random tourists.

I would travel the inside passage between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert for six days straight, then have four days off to recuperate before doing the cycle all over again.

I met a lot of cool crew members during my time spent sailing on the boat, and the money helped pay for a year of tuition and books at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, so I will always be indebted to them and the Port Hardy Chamber for that.

Ironically (I hope I’m using irony correctly here, if not feel free to call me Alanis Morrisette), I was literally the only person on the entire boat who didn’t partake in the early morning emergency training drills, because I never thought the boat would actually sink.

I slept peacefully in my comfy bed while the entire crew was hard at work practicing what to do in case the worst happened.

Now I just like to think back, stare at the Queen of the North postcard I have on my desk, and wonder what exactly could have happened to make the ferry sink to the bottom of the ocean.

I read Colin Henthorne’s book “The Queen of the North disaster” and interviewed him last year about the whole ordeal, though I can’t remember if I ever actually met him in person while I was working on the ship. I’m assuming I must have at some point, because I would have to go upstairs to the bridge every day to use the satellite phone to book people their hotel rooms.

In any case, I think the most pertinent part of the whole interview with Colin was when he told me dealing with the experience had been “an exercise in living with anger and trying to let it go, trying to not let it eat me up. I’ve reached a point now where something will remind me of it and I’ll get angry, but I know the anger’s not going to destroy me. I try to just let it wash over me.”

I’m also pretty sure I talked to the infamous Karl Lilgert only once during the entire summer, and it was just briefly in the TV room while I was on a travelling day back home (if my tour of duty ended in Prince Rupert, I would travel for free back down the inside passage to Port Hardy, where I would spend the day eating ice cream and watching satellite TV).

He seemed like a normal guy with no issues.

I guess the metaphor to use here is that everyone has demons hidden underneath their floorboards that are just lying in wait to show themselves, before inevitably dragging you down to the bottom of the ocean.

Did Lilgert’s demons sink the Queen of the North and cause the deaths of Gerald Foisey and Shirley Rosette?

I don’t know, I was only on board for the summer.

While the BC Supreme Court deemed Lilgert was at fault and upheld his conviction on two counts of causing death by criminal negligence, I honestly don’t think anyone will ever know the real story behind what caused one of the biggest tragedies in BC Ferries history.

Meanwhile, I’ll just continue to stare at my postcard and wonder.

Check out www.northislandgazette.com every Thursday for more Tyson’s Thoughts.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Timber Sales’ operations on the North Island and Central Coast to be audited

The Forest Practices Board randomly chose the region to check for compliance to legislation

B.C. ELECTION: Comox Valley ridings short on voter options as snap election called

Courtenay-Comox riding has two candidates; Mid Island-Pacific Rim only has one

Comox Valley dance classes billed as female empowerment tool

New business focuses on ‘promoting positive body image’

Mount Washington to open Dec. 4 with COVID-19 protocols in place

Reservations for some services, face coverings will be required

New Cumberland fire hall goes to rezoning hearing

Official community plan is also to be amended for the site

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

Most Read