2018 Victoria Classic Boat Festival highlights role of fishing boats of WWII

Merry Chase


July 26, 2018

photo by John McFarlane

This year’s Victoria Classic Boat Festival (August 31 – September 2), looks back to the Second World War with WWII-era boats on display, a special floating exhibit, activities, and events surrounding the role of BC’s fishing vessels, yachts, and shipyards that played an important role on the “home front” of WWII. More than any other way the vessels from that period still afloat speak of the contribution they made to the war effort. They also tell the sad story of the hundreds of vessels swept up in the early war hysteria when the vessels owned by persons of Japanese descent were seized.

The seiner Merry Chase, an example of such vessels on display at the 2018 Festival, started life under ownership of Canadians of Japanese descent. The vessel was built in 1929 at Steveston BC by Nakade Boat Works (to a design by Yasujiro Nakade) and was owned by Ryotara Kita of Vancouver BC. In 1936-1941 the boat was owned by the Nanaimo Shipyard Ltd., Nanaimo BC.

In 1942, the vessel was seized under the War Measures Act. Appraised then at $11,250, the ownership was transferred to His Majesty the King and commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy Fisherman’s Reserve for employment as a Naval Patrol Vessel and Calibration Vessel. In 1943 the vessel was tender to H.M.C.S. Chatham (Prince Rupert BC) and in 1944 was a tender to H.M.C.S. Givenchy (Esquimalt BC). Following the end of the war, the boat was sold several times over and is currently owned by West Wind Charter Ltd., New Westminster BC.

The Victoria Classic Boat Festival is operated by the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. All funds raised through the Festival go to support the educational programs and exhibits, and its mission to promote and preserve BC’s maritime experience and heritage.

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