The Prince Edward Island Steam Navigation Company (later the Charlottetown Steam Navigation Company)was organized in 1863 and it soon was without significant competition in carrying passengers and freight between the Island and the mainland through both the Summerside to Pointe-du-chene and the Charlottetown to Pictou routes. Originally operating the Princess of Wales and the St. Lawrence the opening of the Prince Edward Island Railway in 1873 meant that there was an increase in trade for the Island’s two main ports offering service to the mainland.
In 1896, following the success of the new steamer S.S. Northumberland the company ordered another new vessel to be built in the Grangemouth dockyard near the top of the Firth of Forth. Launched in September 1896, The S.S. Princess was considerably smaller than the Northumberland. Its 165 foot length and 26 foot beam meant that it was about 50 feet shorter and 7 feet narrower than the older boat. The tonnage of the Princess was less than half that of the Northumberland. Rather than the large cabin space on the Northumberland, the Princess had two much smaller deck houses and she appears quite a trim vessel compared with the older steamer.
Although she may have been planned for the shorter crossing to New Brunswick the Princess was soon placed on the Pictou route as the volume of traffic linking the Prince Edward Island Railway with the rails to the Canadian west and the United States meant that the larger of the Steam Navigation Company’s boats was often in demand for sailings out of Summerside. However, neither ship was a stranger in Charlottetown harbour.
In 1905 the Company realized that the smaller ship was not meeting the needs of the province and they began planning for a new large boat which was later named the Empress. In the fall of that year the vessel was surveyed for possible purchase by the Dominion Government and its sale and conversion to a fisheries cruiser was confirmed the following year. The D.G.S. [Dominion Government Steamship] Princess was a frequent visitor to Charlottetown.
Following the Great War she was acquired by Farquhar and Co. of Halifax. In 1920 she was sold to Peruvian interests and in July sailed left Halifax under the Peruvian flag bound for the west coast of South America. Her name was changed in 1921 to the Santa Julia, a further sale in 1928 saw the name changed again to the S.S. Olga. Her final owners were the Guano Administration Company in Peru where she was re-named the S.S. Guanay. The guanay is a type of cormorant responsible for the rich fertilizer deposits on Peru’s off-shore islands. It is not known when she was broken up or taken off the register.