How did the <em>SS Valencia’s</em> ‘theatre of horror’ drag on for 40 hours, and what are the human stories behind the infamous scene of the shipwreck?

How did the SS Valencia’s ‘theatre of horror’ drag on for 40 hours, and what are the human stories behind the infamous scene of the shipwreck?

Victoria museum exhibit dives into shipwreck’s ‘Theatre of Horror’

The tale of the SS Valencia’s sinking off the coast of southern Vancouver Island continues to haunt West Coast maritime lore. A new exhibition at the Maritime Museum of BC explores just what happened.

After a year-long delay due to the pandemic, SS Valencia: ‘A Theatre of Horror’ opened in March and continues to Sept. 2 2021.

The shipwreck of the SS Valencia remains one of the worst maritime disasters in an area along Vancouver Island’s west side known as “The Graveyard of the Pacific.”

Sailing under the flag of the Pacific Coast Steamship Company, the ship was making its way from San Francisco to Seattle in January 1906 when low visibility, high winds and strong waves made navigation challenging. The ship struck a reef on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island and in the confusion and challenging conditions that followed, more than 100 people perished.

The Valencia’s tragic tale lives on – there are ghost stories linked to the events and the sinking has captured the attention of an international audience.

But what actually played out during this dramatic sinking? How did this “theatre of horror” drag on for 40 hours? What are the human stories behind the infamous scene of the shipwreck?

SS Valencia: ‘A Theatre of Horror’ tells the story of the SS Valencia and considers what conditions led to such a horrific ending. Visitors will meet a cast of characters thrown together by fate, hear the human stories behind the tragedy and consider what effect trauma had on the events.

Visitors will also see objects recovered from the Valencia wreck, including some of mysterious circumstances.

You’ll find the museum at 634 Humboldt St. in downtown Victoria.

Please note that at the time of writing, visitors must pre-book their visit due to COVID protocols. To learn more or to plan your visit, head to mmbc.bc.ca.

Please note that Provincial Health Protocols currently advise against travelling outside your region to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Plan your future adventures throughout the West Coast at westcoasttraveller.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @thewestcoasttraveller. And for the top West Coast Travel stories of the week delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our weekly Armchair Traveller newsletter!

Arts and cultureBritish ColumbiaCanadahistorymuseums-and-galleriestravelVictoria

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

 

Artifacts will help tell the story of the <em>SS Valencia</em>, including what conditions led to such a horrific ending.

Artifacts will help tell the story of the SS Valencia, including what conditions led to such a horrific ending.

Just Posted

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. and Victoria’s overdose deaths still rising five years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Former Saanich councillor Dean Murdock hosts a live episode of his podcast on April 14 and tackleto tackle housing issues in the region. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Live episode of Saanich podcast focuses on region’s housing issues

Dean Murdock, panel of guests go live on Zoom for Amazing Places podcast April 14

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip wave goodbye to the crowd at Vancouver International Airport in October 2002. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam)
SOOKE HISTORY: Remembering dinner with the Queen and Prince Philip

Royal couple visited Victoria for Commonwealth Games banquet in 1994

New programs and services aimed at helping the unhoused find shelter or housing in Victoria, and to take advantage of support services of various kinds, could be funded if a City of Victoria grant application is successful. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria seeks $3M to $4M in grant funds to enhance community services for unhoused population

Various supports, services for unhoused population part of broad-based funding application

A Victoria parks staffer turns compost made from organics collected in the parks. Piles of this steaming, nutrient-rich stuff will be handed out between April 12-18. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Victoria shovels free home-made compost out to gardeners

Ideal for prepping food gardens, the compost, mulch and wood chips will be at city parks for pick up

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Most Read