Bob Cole

Maritime Discovery Centre boasts motor collection

Sproat Lake resident Bob Cole's diverse collection of antique outboards are on display now through summer at the Maritime Discovery Centre.

Born and raised at Sproat Lake, Bob Cole is a self-proclaimed boat-a-holic who has been collecting outboard motors for most of his life.

His diverse collection of outboards, that has been donated to the Industrial Heritage Society, boasts close to a couple of dozen motors, many of which are antiques from as early as about 1914. Cole’s outboard motors can be seen now through summer at the Maritime Discovery Centre.

Growing up at Klitsa Lodge on Sproat Lake, Cole said people still tell him he rode boats before he could walk and from as early as age six he was riding around the lake on a 22 m.p.h. hydroplane boat built by the Stone brothers, famous boat racers from Port Alberni.

“Their boats were called the Golden Arrow, and I had the Golden Arrow ll, a cedar-strip hydroplane with a seven-and-a-half horsepower Johnson on it,” Cole said.

Outboards were common around Klitsa Lodge, where a young Cole acquired his first motor. Soon people caught wind of his hobby and his collection began to multiply.

“The outboards, I just sort of collected and then somebody would say ‘hey, I have an outboard in my basement that belonged to my dad,’ and they’d bring it to me,” Cole said. “People kept bringing me more.”

The oldest outboard in his collection is close to 100 years old, an Evinrude, advertised as a detachable row-boat motor that’s unique with a gearshift in the handle and a cam-driven water pump.

“It might have been used at Sproat Lake sawmills by the Mannings. It ended up at Klitsa Lodge on a boat,” Cole said.

By high school Cole was working at Valley Outboards, currently Swale Rock Cafe, where he would sweep the floors and take apart motors. After spending 11 years at the shop, the water enthusiast bought Port Boat House where he remained for 26 years.

“During the years that we had [Port Boat House] we became the largest single Yamaha dealer in Canada,” Cole said. “For three or four years in a row we sold more outboards than any other single store in Canada.”

Cole says he admires the work that the current team at Port Boat House are achieving.

“The crew that’s there now is doing an absolutely amazing job, super impressed with what they’ve done with the business,” Cole said.  “They’ve taken it to a level that was far beyond the ma and pop operation that we were running.”

With boating in his blood, Cole loves all types of water recreation and said, at last count, he owns about 16 or 17 watercraft.

“I have a stand-up paddle board, a wind surfer, three kayaks, a canoe, Boston Whaler fish boat, three row boats, an inflatable boat and a 27-foot fishing boat,” Cole said.

The Maritime Discovery Centre is located at Harbour Quay, comprising the Ken Hutcheson Gallery and the lighthouse gallery.

 

karly.blats@albernivalleynews.com

facebook.com/albernivalleynews

twitter.com/alberninews

 

Just Posted

Alberni drag racers travel to Port McNeill for event on airport runway

More than 20 drag racers from the Alberni Valley travelled to Port… Continue reading

Learn the art of songwriting with musician John Pippus

Writing workshop, performance at Words on Fire highlight a trip to Alberni

Descend to the depths of diving history in Port Alberni

New exhibit opens at Maritime Discovery Centre

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

Vancouver Island teen with viral video headlining first concert

Lauren Spencer-Smith, formerly of Port Alberni, has been recording new songs

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

Most Read