Advertisement for steamboat Flyer, published sometime between 1891 and 1911.
The Puget Sound Navigation Company (PSNC) was founded by Joshua Green in 1913. It operated a fleet of steamboats and ferries on Puget Sound in Washington and the Georgia Strait in British Columbia. Known colloquially as the Black Ball Line, the PSNC achieved a "virtual monopoly" on cross-sound traffic in the 1930s and competed with the Canadian Pacific Railway's steamships on several routes.
Before 1927, when the company was controlled by Joshua Green, the house flag consisted of a design by Mrs. Green, a red star on a white diamond on a blue background. After 1927, when Joshua Green sold his interest to the Peabody family, the Black Ball company flag was transferred over to Puget Sound Navigation Co., and the company became known as the Black Ball Line.
The new Black Ball flag.
PSNC began to struggle following World War II, as operating costs increased and its unions threatened strike action. PSNC petitioned the State Utilities Commission for permission to raise its fares, but was rebuffed. Following a long series of court battles, PSNC's unionized employees finally called a strike. The company responded not by hiring strike breakers, but by halting operations, hoping public pressure would convince the State to permit a fare increase. The State declined to intervene, and PSNC eventually sold its domestic operations assets to the state of Washington's Department of Transportation for the sum of $4.9 million in early 1951, creating Washington State Ferries on May 31.
PSNC retained the assets used in their Canadian operations and, after the 1951 downsizing, operated a much-reduced fleet of five ships as Black Ball Ferries, Ltd. on routes between Vancouver and Nanaimo, and across Howe Sound and Jervis Inlet. The first all-Canadian route began on August 11, 1951 and was between Horseshoe Bay (in West Vancouver) and Gibsons Landing on BC's Sunshine Coast. In November 1961, this company sold most of its assets to BC Ferries, which had commenced operations in June 1960 as a division of the British Columbia Toll Highways and Bridges Authority, a Crown corporation of the British Columbia provincial government.
The current descendant of the Black Ball Line is Black Ball Ferry Line, which currently operates only one route between Port Angeles, WA and Victoria, BC, using the MV Coho.