The Merriwake, a fishing boat built in 1929 by Isamu (Sam) Matsumoto, will find a new home in Slocan. Photo submitted

Society plans restoration of historic Kootenay Lake fishing boat

The Merriwake had been submerged in Kootenay Lake near Kaslo before being salvaged two years ago

Submitted

An historic Japanese Canadian fishing boat that is the last of its kind in Canada will now be preserved, thanks to the efforts of the Slocan Valley Historical Society.

The Merriwake, a 31-foot gill netter built in 1929 by master builder Isamu (Sam) Matsumoto, has been purchased by the society, which intends to restore the vessel for a dry-land display in Slocan.

“We are grateful to so many people,” says president Joyce Johnson, “including Joy Kogawa, Ian Fraser and Columbia Basin Trust for the funds needed to purchase the boat and the many amazing people in Kaslo for their efforts in saving her from Kootenay Lake.

“And finally, we are grateful to previous owner Ted Fitzgerald for entrusting the society with this important artifact. It truly has taken a village. The next step is to apply for grants and raise funds for the restoration of the boat and the creation of the display.”

The Merriwake had been submerged in Kootenay Lake near Kaslo before being salvaged a couple years ago. Despite being waterlogged, the ship is in good shape, a testament to the quality of her construction.

Local shipwright Eric Chevalier of The Copper Nail in Bonnington will begin the restoration of the Merriwake. Nelson engineer Ted Nunn and Slocan Valley designer Eric Clough will assist with the structure which will house the boat. Slocan logger and historical society director Gary Burns will donate timbers for the shelter.

Kaslo historian Ian Fraser will create the interpretive signage which will detail the boat’s journey and some of the Japanese Canadian history in the area. And former owner Ted Fitzgerald will create short film/picture montages to document her journey including her restoration.

“This is a local effort but it’s important on a national scale,” says Johnson. We are supported in this initiative by the Village of Slocan, Slocan Valley Historical Trail Society, and Recreation Sites and Trails BC.

“Our hope is that the Merriwake will bring our community together in shared project that will be a place of pride but also reflection, meditation and learning,” says society vice-president Anitra Winje.

“The Merriwake is valuable for what she represents: the craftsmanship and social/economic/cultural contributions of Japanese Canadian boat buildings and fishermen. But she is also a poignant and essential reminder of the terrible injustice endured by Japanese Canadians. We must not forget this part of our past. The Merriwake will help ensure we don’t.”

Anyone interested in getting on board the Merriwake project or learning more about the society can call 250-355-2230.

Just Posted

NDP bring Green New Deal to the Kootenays

MPs Wayne Stetski and Peter Julian held climate change talks in Nelson, Cranbrook and Revelstoke

Elk River reclaims property as its own

Laws make it harder to protect private land than ever before says farmer, local government

Smoke-free summer a boon for West Kootenay tourism

Tourism centres seeing numbers up

LETTER: Nelson far from bike-friendly

From reader Nancy Rosenblum

LETTER: Make pot illegal again

From reader Rod Retzlaff

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town hit by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

B.C. man on trial for daughters’ murders an intruder broke in

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Most Read