By Frank Pantony
One day I was working in a dairy in Vancouver, three miles away from the C.P.R. docks. Suddenly there was a big blast and a quivering like an earthquake. We wondered what it was, what had happened. We had drivers delivering milk all over Vancouver. Some of them came back and told us what had happened. A freighter carrying explosives had blown up at the C.P.R. dock. All the plate glass windows in the stores going up Granville Street were shattered. After work, I went down to see what was there. There was lots of broken glass all over, but no boat.
(1981) Note: The boat was called the Canyon Park. Frank thought of the name after a week!
Mr. Pantony was recalling the explosion in Vancouver Harbour of the Greenhill Park on March 6, 1945:
“…easily the most spectacular and disastrous event in the port’s history. Eight longshoremen were killed in that explosion, 19 other workers were injured, seven firemen ended up in the hospital and hundreds of windows in downtown Vancouver, some as far west as Thurlow and as far north as Dunsmuir, were blown out. Whole office blocks had scarcely a pane of glass intact.”
—The History of Metropolitan Vancouver, Chuck Davis
(2009) Harbour Publishing
More info on the story at: Vancouver Maritime Museum: City of Vancouver Archives, and The Vancouver Sun.
The SS Greenhill Park was virtually blown in two on March 6, 1945, when it exploded at the CPR dock on the Coal Harbour waterfront.
The March 7, 1945 front of the Vancouver Sun. which reported eight deaths from the Greenhill Park explosion at the CPR´s Pier B.C.
Bits & Pieces: 2013 Editor’s Footnote:
Some of our readers may remember the R.F.M. of Salt Spring Island. This editor was co-owner of the R.F.M. (Richard Frederick Marpole) in the 1980‘s when it had been converted to a classic 108′ schooner. In it’s original life, the R.F.M. was the tug that towed the burning Greenhill Park after the explosion, to Siwash Rock outside Vancouver Harbour. The RFM survives today as the Merrie Ellen of Port Townsend, Washington. As a sailing schooner! Google Merrie Ellen too if you’re interested!