This historic artifact, shown in detail, is held by the Royal BC Museum in Victoria. Is it:
A) The “Mermaid of Active Pass,” drawn by a BC Ferry passenger who claims to have seen her in 1967.
B) An early rendering of the Starbucks logo, created by a Victoria artist in 1970.
C) Detail from a flag once flown at the entrance to Victoria’s Ross Bay Cemetery.
D) Insignia on a dinner napkin from the historic sternwheeler, the SS Moyie.
E) Crest from the ill-fated 1910 Scott Expedition to the South Pole.
F) Close-up of a beer mat from a Victoria brewery, circa 1899?
If you guessed E), you were correct.
E) At the beginning of the 20th century, the race to win the South Pole was a prestigious and intensely dangerous competition between two explorers: Roald Amundsen from Norway and Robert Scott from England. Each of the men on Scott’s 1910 British Antarctic Expedition had a distinctive pennant like this one to fly from their sleds and use at base camp during ceremonial occasions. This flag, which incorporates a mermaid and the motto “Trust all to Providence,” belonged to the expedition’s chief dog handler Cecil Henry Meares (1877-1937), adventurer, explorer, and British Naval Officer. In 1912, Meares received a message from home urging him to return home to England to attend to family affairs; he left shortly before Scott’s team perished on the ice. Eventually, Meares settled in Victoria. His family gifted the pennant to the Royal BC Musuem, where it will be displayed this summer as part of the Race to the End of the Earth exhibition. The exhibit opened today.