Edward Crawford Swank was born September 13, 1890 in Omaha, Nebraska. His prolific career on the sea began in 1907 as a deckhand for the Canadian Pacific Coast Service fleet. Edward married Elizabeth May Thomas on June 15, 1912 in Nanaimo, BC. On July 27,1916 Swank received his certificate of naturalization, becoming a British Subject. That same year he joined the Royal Canadian Navy and served on the HMCS Malaspina and on other ships in the Atlantic. After serving for two years and earning certification as "Mate" in the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve, he returned to the CPR, transferring to their Ocean Service fleet.
In 1919 he left service to write his Master's papers which he received on August 5, 1919 with certification as "Master of a Passenger Steamer". Swank's first job as a ship's Master was with Thompson Howe Sound Navigation which was late taken over by the Union Steamships Company. In 1922 he joined the Grand Trunk Pacific Line (later called Canadian National Steamships). In 1942 he joined the B.C. Steamship Line (later known as Northland Navigation), running to Alaska for the United States Army. In 1945 he joined the Frank Waterhouse Company which was later absorbed by Union Steamships Ltd. Swank sailed on all of the Union Steamship freighters and was Master of their flagship Cassiar before his retirement on December 6, 1957.
Edward and Elizabeth May (1894-1976) resided at 2903 Kathleen Street, in Burnaby, British Columbia and until Edward's death on July 8, 1970.
Swank’s maritime career includes the following appointments:
|Deckhand/3rd Officer||CPR Princess Royal||1907 - 1913|
|Mate||T&B||June 3, 1913 - May 10,1916|
|2nd Officer||CPR Queen City||June 29, 1916 - Sept 27,1916|
|3rd Officer||CPR Princess Charlotte||Sept - Dec 1916|
|3rd Officer||SS Prince Adelaide||Sept 30, 1916 - Jan 31, 1917|
|2nd Mate/2nd Officer||HMCS Malaspina||Dec 1916 - April 1918|
|Mate||HMCS Seagull (Trawler 26)||April 1917 - June 1918|
|Mate||Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve||Dec 1, 1917 - Dec 20,1918|
|Mate in Command||HMCS TR 26||July 1918 - Nov 1918|
|3rd Officer||CPR Princess Charlotte||1918 - 1919|
|4th Officer/3rd Officer||RMS Empress of Asia||1919 - 1920|
|3rd Officer||Princess Alice||Mar 12, 1919 - April 15,1919|
|Captain||SS Marine Express No.1||August 1919 - Nov 1, 1919|
|Chief Officer||SS E.D. Kingsley||April 12,1920 - July 17, 1920|
|Master||SS Marine Empress No.1||1920|
|Master||Newcastle No.6||April 1920 - March 1921|
|Chief Officer||SS Talarite||April 20,1921 - Aug 4,1921|
|Master||SS Talarite||July 6, 1921 - Feb 15, 1922|
|Chief Officer||SS Talarite||Feb 15, 1922 - May 18,1922|
|3rd Officer||SS Prince Albert||July 1,1922 - July 21, 1922|
|Captain||Kiltuish||Aug 14,1922 - March 27,1923|
|3rd Officer||SS Prince Rupert||Aug 16, 1926 - June 1, 1928|
|3rd Officer||SS Prince George||Sept 1929|
|2nd Officer/3rd Officer||SS Prince John||Oct 7, 1929 - Nov 29,1929|
|3rd Officer||SS Prince Charles||Dec 4, 1929|
|Master||M/V Chief Takush||June 17, 1936 - Aug 10, 1936|
|2nd Mate||SS Griffco||Dec 27,1939 - Dec 5, 1940|
|2nd Officer/3rd officer||SS Rosebank||May 21, 1941 - Oct 21,1941|
|Chief Officer/ Master||SS Island Prince||Nov 13, 1942 - Nov 13, 1944|
The original order of the records is unknown as they were salvaged from disorganized and scattered piles all over the floor of the Swank house. In order to facilitate their prompt removal, they were arbitrarily boxed and brought to Vancouver Maritime Museum. A number of years later, David Stone, a museum volunteer, re-boxed and organized the records, stabilized fragile documents, and filled out an "Archive Record Note" for each record.
In October 2002 the formal arrangement and description of the Swank records was completed by an archivist, Lisa Beitel. Based on the known history of the records the decision was made to organize the records chronologically into two series. The original box list has been retained and is available at the end of the finding aid.