BC Ferry History: Prior to 1958 the ferry system was privately run. In March, 1959 the BC Provincial Government announced they were going to assume the operations of the ferry system. In 1961, the now known, BC Ferries purchased the Gulf Island Navigation Company and the Black Ball Ferries which operated from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo and the Sunshine Coast. In 1969 BC Ferries purchases the MV Mill Bay and MV Island Princess from Coast Ferries to service the Mill Bay to Brentwood Bay routes.
In 1977 BC Ferries became the British Columbia Ferry Corporation, a Crown Corporation. In 1985, the acquisition of 14 ferries from the Provincial Ministry of Transportation and Highways brought the total ship count to 38 servicing 24 sailing routes becoming one of the largest ferry operations in the world. In 1990, BC Ferries introduced the mid island route from Nanaimo to Tsawwassen. In 2002, the BC Government transfers the crown corporation, BC Ferries, to an independent, commercial company. In April 2003 the BC Ferry Corporation is established under the provincial Company ACT.
BC Ferry Fleet: Today, the BC Ferries has a fleet of 35 vessels servicing over 48 locations on the west coast of British Columbia. The two flagship vessels for the BC Ferry Corporation are the "Spirit of British Columbia" and the "Spirit of Vancouver Island" considered both to be "Super Ferries". These two "S Class" BC Ferries are the largest of the BC Ferry fleet built in 1993/94. Each "S CLass" Ferry can handle 470 vehicles and transport 2100 people traveling at 19.5 knots.
The BC Ferry vessels that are double ended are the " C Class Ferries" which are over 132 metres long and can carry 362 vehicles and 1500 passengers traveling at 22 knots. "C Class Ferries" are double ended ferries that have a separate bridge at each end of the ferry and therefore they do not have to turn around during the sailing.
The inter island sailing routes servicing, mostly, the Gulf Islands, Discovery Islands are shorter routes so they use what is called a "Century Class Ferry", "K Class Ferry" or a "Q Class Ferry" which hold about 100 cars or less.