Nonsuch The Return of the Nonsuch:

The Ship that Launched an Empire


Author: Laird Rankin



The Return of The Nonsuch: the Ship that Launched an Empire is the story of two ships of the same name. The original, a seventeenth-century ketch which made the round-trip voyage (1668­69) from England to Hudson Bay, leading to the founding of the Hudson¹s Bay Company in 1670. The replica, researched and authentically re-constructed in England in 1968, was the centerpiece of the Bay's 300th anniversary in 1970 and the company's gift to the Provinceof Manitoba when her life as a sailing ship ended.


The replica's story involves her coming to Canada as deck cargo, her immense popularity along the St. Lawrence River and throughout the Great Lakes, and her transformation into a flatbed trailer for the overland journey from the Great Lakes to the Pacific. Her popularity continued undiminished on the Pacific Coast, but at last, she returned to Winnipeg for permanent installation in the Nonsuch Gallery of the Manitoba Museum. At the core of the story are the men, particularly the members of the crew, who made all this happen.


It is a unique tale, engagingly told by Laird Rankin, the man whom the HBC put in charge of the vessel shortly after she was launched, and who stayed with her until her museum home opened in December 1974. Decades later he is still involved with the replica ship. With her immense popularity, the Nonsuch is a story that continues to delight.