26.9.11

Space Pirates From The Land Of The Rising Sun! Horror Punks And . . . A Big Weasel?!

Captain Harlock is just one – though perhaps the best known – of the many creations of Japanese manga artist Leiji Matsumoto (Space Battleship Yamato, Galaxy Express 999, Queen Emeraldas, Gun Frontier, Cosmo Warrior Zero, etc.). Of course, the fact that Captain Harlock has made at least a cameo appearance in nearly all of Matsumoto’s works may explain the scope of his notoriety.

Although first created in 1953 as a minor character in Matsumoto’s Adventures of a Honey Bee, the Captain wouldn’t enjoy a title spot until Space Pirate Captain Harlock was serialized between 1977 and 1979 in the Japanese magazine Play Comic. The story was quickly adapted to a 42 episode TV series that ran from 1978 to 1979. The full-length feature prequel, Arcadia of My Youth was released in 1982 and a second series, Endless Orbit SSX soon followed. Since that time, Captain Harlock has appeared in countless other “Leijiverse” stories, on both page and screen, authorized and unauthorized.


Like many others, I might never have discovered the exploits of the crew of Harlock’s space battleship Arcadia if not for The Misfits’ 1982 LP release Walk Among Us. Along with a creature from the 1959 B-movie Angry Red Planet, the album cover features a band photo with vocalist Glenn Danzig wearing a shirt and matching gloves with Harlock's signature "Jolly Roger" skull and bones.


The iconic album eventually went on to influence the sound, lyrics and imagery of many other bands, like White Zombie, for example.


And me? What can I say? I’ve been a fan of Captain Harlock for years, and believe me, I’ve got the videos, comic books, action figures, clothing and general collector bric-a-brac to back it up!


So you can imagine my delight while recently rewatching the very first episode of Space Pirate Captain Harlock, when I came across an eerily familiar image, one practically from my own backyard!


Anyone traveling through the Niagara Region along the QEW over the last ten years will no doubt have noticed the wrecked “pirate ship” along the shore of Jordan Station, just outside of St. Catharines. While not an actual shipwreck, the story of how it came to be in its present state is still a sad one.


A replica of La Grande Hermine (“The Big Weasel”) - the ship that brought famed French explorer Jacques Cartier to the New World – the ship served as a restaurant for Montreal’s Expo ’67 and was soon after moved and put on display in a Quebec City park.


After suffering several decades of poor maintenance, La Grande Hermine was dismantled and relocated to Jordan Harbour, outside of St. Catharines, ON, with the intention of restoring and returning the ship to it’s original use as a floating restaurant.


However, funding for the restoration project fell through, and shortly after in 2002, a “suspicious fire” rendered the boat unsalvageable and the remains have stayed where they are since.



For more information on Space Pirate Captain Harlock and to watch all 42 episodes of the original series, visit Crunchyroll.

If you’d like to see what La Grande Hermine looked like inside before the fire, I’d suggest checking out Infiltration.

Detailed information on La Grande Hermine’s location can also be found at Waymarking.com.

-DE

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