Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards

As we finished our visit and photoshoot to the hulk ships in Powell River, we were driving off in our van when I got a long text from my 83 years young Great-auntie Gene, who still lives in the area. She was excited to see the pictures I had just texted her showing us rowing around these great hulk ships and then to my amazement and surprise, she shared this unreal story to us all.

My aunt told us about how my late great-grandpa, Alf Vinson, worked on the ‘Spare Gang’ at the Powell River Pulp & Paper Mill.

Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards

Great-grandpa Alf Vinson

Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards

Great-grandma Margarett Vinson and Great-grandpa Alf Vinson

Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards

Great-auntie Gene

Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards

Great-grandpa Alf Vinson

Every week, Alf and several other workers would be taken out to the huge WWII concrete ships that formed a giant breakwater in front of the mill.

My great-grandpa’s job was to pump the ships out when they needed it and to clean them up a bit.

Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards

At the end of the shift, a boat would come out to take him and the other members of the gang back to the pulp mill.

Quitting time came and went at the mill. More time passed. Alf never showed up at home and my late Great-grandma Margarett was getting worried. Alf hadn’t arrived home for supper and it was getting dark.

She checked the local pubs.

Then she checked with the time-keeper’s office at the mill.

Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards

It turned out, Great-grandpa Alf never checked-out after his shift.

Next, great-grandma made a call to his supervisor. The supervisor called all the men that picked up the breakwater ship workers, and it turned out, no one had picked up Alf! They had forgotten my great-grandfather. They had left him abandoned on one of the old hulk ships.

Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards

As it turned out, he spent the night alone in the dark, in a creepy old WWII ship’s hold.

They picked him up first thing in the morning and he finally made it home.

Great-grandpa Alf was very hungry.

He’d also been rather cold through the night but otherwise was totally fine.

And, for his hardship, the mill gave him that entire day off with full pay.

Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards

From that time on, my great-grandma packed him a bigger lunch on the days he had to service the ships.

It was totally fun to learn from my Great-auntie Gene a bit of personal family history about my Great-grandfather Alf’s adventure with the hulk ships of Powell River!

Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards

As we rolled along the highway to our next stop at Saratoga Beach, back on Vancouver Island, I could hardly believe how small the world had become in time and space. Little did I realize as I rowed around the breakwater ships, that I had a personal connection with those giant, floating, concrete hulks.

Diana

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Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards
Campbell River Breakwater Rowing, WWII Hulk Ships, Oar Board Stand Up Paddle Boards