The tugboat Swell in Victoria’s harbour in 1962 with the Johnson Street Bridge, constructed in 1924, in the background. The bridge is eventually being replaced. Photo courtesy of the Maritime Museum of BC
My dad started his career as a mariner on the Swell in 1945, at age 14. I still have the letters he scrawled to his mother from his first voyage as a deckhand:
July 28, 1945
Right now we are lying to at Nanaimo because there is a bad storm outside and we have to tow a log scow to Powell River.
We came up from Victoria to Nanaimo in about sixteen hours. We pulled in here about 9 then we pulled out about for Vancouver at about 10 with an empty scow to tie up off Kitsilano Beach on a buoy.
I came off watch about ¼ of the way back here. My hands have blisters on them and they are dam sore from filling up the coal bunkers. Right now I am writing this letter in my bunk so you will have to excuse the writing.
Don’t write me because I don’t know where we are going or for how long.
July 29, 1945
I wrote that last letter in a bang of a hurry at 12:30 Saturday morning (this is Saturday also).
We laid up here for the night because it was stormy last night. I had twelve hours sleep last night because I went to bed at 6 p.m. thinking I would have to stand watch from 12:00 to 6:00 a.m. but we stayed up here so I slept until 12:00 then got up for a mug-up then went to bed again wrote you your letter and then slept till seven this morning.
I went up to see the Grassick’s (??) this afternoon and had a chat with Marge at the store.
We are going to Powell River to-day then there is some buzz of going to Quatsino (??) then I don’t know where. If I am in the wheelhouse when we go by home I will try to blow two shorts and a long___ ___ ______.
Loves of love,
Dad would later work his way up to Master Mariner, and in 1966 became Supervisor of Marine Pilotage in Victoria.
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