The Orca G., an early Sointula boat, is still afloat and serving as a live-aboard in Cowichan Bay.
She is one of the earliest wooden boats by Sointula boatbuilder Toivo Aro, built in 1926. At the time he was the keeper at Pulteney Point Light Station on Malcolm Island. In those days lightkeepers were notoriously poorly paid, and when he complained that he couldn’t afford to support his family on the salary, the powers that be suggested he find a second job. So he began boatbuilding. The Orca G. was built in Aro’s boatshed at the light station.
The Orca G. was built as a table seiner for a group of Sointula men who were going to fish her cooperatively. They were Santtu Daavettila, John Frederickson, Victor Toulos, Bruno Kaario, Herman Pouttu and Victor Maki. The name was originally Orca Gladiator, but apparently it was thought to be too long, so the owners shortened it. The full name is evident in the page below, taken from a book printed in Finland in 1927. The author was a travel writer who was taken for a trip on the Orca G. while he was in Sointula.
At some point in the 1930s the boat was purchased by Japanese business partners Senkichi Fukuyama and Iwakichi Sugiyama of Vancouver, who jointly owned two fish companies, the Burrard Fishing Company and Howe Sound Fisheries. The Orca G. was part of the Burrard Fishing Company fleet, though she was registered in Fukuyama’s name. The partners had a fleet of boats for the Howe Sound Fisheries, the Howe Sound I through to Howe Sound V. Their companies, both whole sale fish buyers and sellers, were based at the Campbell Avenue wharf on Burrard Inlet, the Vancouver headquarters of the fishing fleet at the time. War came, and like all Japanese owned fishing boats, all of Fukuyama and Sugiyama’s boats were confiscated.
Orca G. in 1942. Vancouver Public Library photo
After the war the salmon canning company J. H. Todd & Sons bought the seiner for its fishing operations. In 1949 she was fishing out of the Klemtu Cannery. By the 1970s she was in the hands of Thomas “Bud” Yeatman of Quathiaski Cove, and in the 1980s once again owned by a fishing company, Ocean Fisheries.
Sources: Western Mariner March 2008; Spirit of the Nikkei Fleet by Masako Fukawa; Native Voice, December 1949 p. 11.