A National Film Board of Canada Release:
December 26, 1852. I witnessed the making of a legend. My name is Charles and I'm with the Illustrated London News. The Marco Polo has just circumnavigated the globe in less than six months! She is the Queen of the Seas. A new age of travel has begun!
From a shipyard in Saint John, New Brunswick, to Liverpool and Melbourne and, finally, to a watery grave off the coast of Prince Edward Island, The Marco Polo: Queen of the Seas offers a fascinating account of a legendary ship during the golden age of sail in the 19th century.
Although it began life as a freighter carrying timber from Canada to England, the Canadian-built Marco Polo was soon bought by new owners who recognized the potential of her huge size and revolutionary design. Outfitted for passenger travel, the ship transported thousands of emigrants to the promise of a new life in Australia. Today, one in every twenty Australians can trace his or her roots to the Marco Polo.
Using archival footage and dramatizations of journals kept during the ship's voyages, this documentary presents a colourful cast of characters, including the dictatorial but widely- respected captain who was determined that no ship would sail faster. It is also the story of some of the thousands of poor emigrants whose personal anecdotes are a vivid reminder of the challenges that confronted ocean travellers during the 1800s.
Through the voices of those who built her, sailed her, and a written account by Lucy Maud Montgomery of her ignominious end, The Marco Polo chronicles an unforgettable journey through time and place.
Legendary in life and death, the spirit of the Marco Polo lives on today in festival and song in both Canada and Australia. Local community leaders in Saint John have ambitious plans to build a replica of the ship. if they succeed, the Marco Polo may soon sail again.
Director Roger Hart Producer Sam Grana