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Captain James Leander Card

February 21, 2012

James Leander Card was born in Nova Scotia in 1833.   Captain Card took over the Fraser River ferry SS Surrey in 1893 by lease for two years and stayed on as Master of the Surrey until the year 1900.

During his time on the Surrey, the pump-equipped vessel was  sometimes pulled from her somnolent  to-and-fro between the City and South Westminster for more urgent work.  On May 25, 1894 a fire broke out in the shingle mill at the center of the Royal City Planing Mills  and quickly spread to the box factory and dry kiln.   The Mill at New Westminster was the largest employer of men on the Mainland,   the premises covering an area of 20 acres.  Captain Card and the Surrey directed streams of water from the river to the mill until the blaze was brought under control. The loss within a five acre area of buildings and works was total, but the fire was kept from spreading further.

On July 3, 1895 at 1 o’clock  in the morning, a fire broke out at the Dunfries Cannery at Steveston,  quickly spread to the neighboring Phoenix Cannery and both large concerns were completely destroyed.

“The fire steamer Surrey, which had been telephoned for as early as possible, left New Westminster soon after 3 o’clock [a.m.], but arrived too late to be of material service, though she was very effective in preventing the fire from the ruins extending any further.”

[A second blaze erupted later the same day at the Brunette Mills in Sapperton. It quickly spread to the Laidlaw Cannery and left both concerns in ruins.  Some ships moored at the dock were helped off  onto the river, but not before one was caught by the flames. Reports do not mention if the Surrey was at this time yet back from duties at Steveston.]

After leaving the Surrey,  Captain Card was Master of the Fraser River snag boat Samson.  Upon  his retirement in 1908 after 55 years service on the water,  the crew of the Samson presented him with  gold-headed cane.

JL Card returned to Nova Scotia and lived until the age of 84, passing away in 1918 at Burlington, West Hants.

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