Michael Cone is trying to determine the ultimate fate of the Wenonah which may have sailed in local waters in the 1950s.

Michael Cone is trying to determine the ultimate fate of the Wenonah which may have sailed in local waters in the 1950s.

Does anyone remember the Wenonah?

The Wenonah was a wooden fishing trawler with an interesting pastwhichi included a stint in the Campbell River area in the mid 1950s.

She was built in Dartmouth, England, in 1905, by Simpson, Strickland & Co., one of the Country’s foremost builders of steam yachts and launches of the day.

She was 43 feet long with a beam of 7 feet. Her polished mahogany hull was double-planked, with oil canvas in between the planks and her steam bent ribs were fashioned from American elm.

She had a small trunk cabin, which housed closets, storage lockers, benches and a lavatory, and there was a small glass-enclosed steering cockpit forward, all finished in varnished mahogany.

Her machinery included a fire-tube boiler and a quadruple expansion steam engine.

In short, the Wenonah was a typical English-built cabin launch of the period – heavy, solid and well constructed – and her appointments were modern and first-class.

Charles W. Busk, a fruit rancher on Kootenay Lake, ordered the Wenonah and had her shipped overseas to B.C.

Her career on inland waters was short-lived.

By 1914, she was already on the coast, at Victoria.

In the early 1930s, she was used for salvaging and during the 1940s she was converted to a fishing trawler and taken to Port Alberni.

The Wenonah  would undergo many changes over the years. Her steam engine was removed (rumoured to have been used for training purposes at the Esquimalt Navy yard) and replaced with a gasoline engine. Her fantail stern was cut off square and her old trunk cabin was removed and replaced with new cabins.

But throughout all of her transformations, she never lost her seaworthiness.

She was one of the fastest trawlers in the Port Alberni fishing fleet during the 40s and early 50s and those who fished on her still remember the way she would cut through the water so smoothly that she left no white water behind her.

The Wenonah was sold in the mid-fifties and taken to either Comox or Campbell River. What became of her after this is unclear. Michael Cone is hoping a reader who recalls seeing her will be able to provide details on her final disposition, ending a career that spanned more than half a century. He can be reached by email at mecone@shaw.ca.

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