Thursday, February 20, 2014

Nanaimo Heritage Summit - 'Heritage Afloat'

Parker Williams
Courtesy BC Archives
The theme of the Heritage Summit was 'Heritage Afloat' and Mr. Parker Williams gave an informative and entertaining historical account from the pages of Nanaimo's nautical history and some of the early ships and shipwrecks that make up that piece of Nanaimo's tapestry.

From the earliest Spanish sailing ships to the four masted Colliery ships to the steam driven tugs and finally the steamships that played a vital role in opening up and developing this lovely piece of paradise we call home.

Mr. Williams chronicled some of the colorful past of ships that sailed from these ports including a certain famous/infamous vessel laden with 12,000 cases of rum bound for the US during the days of prohibition. He also explained how some of the rocks along our coast got their name, one particularly well known one; Thrasher Rock which was named for the hapless soul that first found it with most unpleasant consequence.

A particularly nasty accident occured when a steamship laden with dynamite had a fire break out in the engine room, forcing the engineer to leave the engine still under full and building steam. The captain managed to run the ship onto the shore of Protection Island where the crew made great haste to warn the miners at Gallows Point of the impending explosion. When it finally happened it completely obliterated the vessel and to this day there is not so much as a piece of scrap from the unlucky vessel.

I met with Mr. Parker at the end of the evening and encouraged him to put his research into  a book form, either hard copy or digital as he is a wealth of knowledge about the ships and shipwrecks, most of which have long been forgotten. But that is the way of Heritage, isn't it?

Roundtable Discussion By Various Heritage Groups In Nanaimo

After Mr. Williams presentation about ships, the folk in attendance participated in a roundtable discussion with a wide variety of people with a heritage focus giving a brief update on their groups goals and activities. There were about 50 people in attendance who were treated to coffee and of course Nanaimo bars during the evening.

The evening was hosted and emceed by Chris Sholberg of the Cultural and Heritage Department assisted by his able assistant Rebecca Tubbs.

Roundtable discussion following Ships & Shipwrecks presentation


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