The Hornsby Crawler is the only surviving example on the continent of Roberts Hornsby’s "chain track” steam crawler. It was a pre-World War I forerunner to the army tank, which was adapted for local industry after 1928.
From fishing to mining and forestry – the North Island is home to a wealth of history and heritage assets connected to its long history as a resource-sector economy. Manufactured in 1909, the Hornsby Steam Crawler is a large steam engine vehicle significant for its breakthrough “endless track” design and connection to the Port Alice pulp mill. Remnants of the Crawler, located in Coal Harbour, are set to become the central attraction of a heritage site in development on the traditional territory of the Quatsino First Nation.
Led by the Regional District of Mount Waddington, this project will implement a full interpretive complement to the Hornsby Crawler Heritage Site with historical displays telling the story of logging, mining and early settlers in the region. Connection with the local Indigenous community is an important element of the project, featuring the history, culture and current economic development initiatives of the Quatsino First Nation. A micro-landing page will also be developed to market the attraction on myvancouverislandnorth.ca.
Set to be complete by the end of 2019, this project will enhance the inventory of formal heritage sites on the North Island, drawing visitors further afield and extending their stay in support of the local tourism economy. Its location in Coal Harbour will ‘bookend’ a series of heritage sites on the North Island, beginning with the 113 Steam Locomotive located in the Nimpkish Valley. Collectively, these artifacts may eventually comprise a heritage trail educating visitors about the history of the North island, generating tourism spending in remote, rural and gateway communities.