|North Star of Herschel Island|
|Canada’s Arctic Tall Ship
|North Star of Herschel Island is the last of the sailing Arctic cargo ships. She is the only fully rigged ship in Canada, meaning that she crosses squares on each of her three masts. Sails can be handled from on deck and it is possible for the ship to be sailed single-handedly.North Star was built in 1935 in San Francisco at the Geo. W. Kneass shipyard and shipped to the Arctic aboard the 600 ton trading ship Patterson. She had originally been built for two Inuit fox trappers. She was used from 1936 to 1961 for transport of the winter’s catch of fur to market in early August and for transportation of supplies from Aklavik and Tuktoyaktuk to Sachs Harbour on Banks Island in late August and early September when ice conditions permitted sea navigation. Except for three winters frozen in the ice, each fall North Star was hauled onto the beach and launched the following spring using three purchase tackle and hand winched by the whole village over skids of freshly killed seals.
North Star was left on the beach in 1961 when cargo flights took over the transportation and remained on the beach until 1968. She was purchased by her second owner in 1967 and refit for navigation in the Beaufort Sea. From 1968 until 1973 she was used for scientific investigations in the Arctic Ocean. Subsequent voyages included surveying the British Columbia Alaska boundary, ecological adventures, sail training and searching for mermaids.
North Star is the home of her present owners and is no longer a commercial ship but is now a private vessel. She is not available for charter. She is available as a way of educating people about Arctic history such as for school group tours and historical societies. There is no charge for this. She sometimes participates in classic and wooden boat shows. The ship is rigged, ready and capable of sailing anywhere in the world.