Oct. 1-7, 2006
Here was an idea that really took hold. We had wanted to run a special tour to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the launching of the Columbia III and we had the idea of retracing some of her former routes with our good friend, author and historian, Jeanette Taylor along to help bring the abandoned areas back to life for us. But before we could really get the idea off the ground, a robust man in his late 60’s came aboard in Port McNeill. “Hello, my name is Rev. Peter Rolston and I use to work on this boat!” he declared in a most amiable way. He was rushing for a ferry but before he left we had swapped addresses because HE was coming for sure on our Historical Tour. During the fall of 2005 Peter called several times to ensure that the tour was going ahead, and when we confirmed the dates we called Peter. Within the week Peter had gathered his wife and eight more guests to fill our boat with people who had worked on mission vessels, including the Thomas Crosby IV and the Columbia III. Unfortunately, at the last moment Peter was unable to join us due to severe health problems but the tour, loaded with his friends, went on and we were all so glad that Peter had brought us all together. We retraced ports they had visited as ministers in the late 60’s, stopping in at Echo Bay, Minstrel Island, Port Neville, Blind Channel, Thurston Bay and more. We even got to swing by our home for the first time in months and give our guests a little tour of the Campbell/Kornelsen/Hyatt homestead.
During this tour I was really struck with the sense that the Columbia III was/is in her home waters. We were pulling into docks where the vessels of the Columbia Coast Mission have been tying up for the last 100 years. When we pulled into Whaletown people actually walked down to watch us tie-up “The Columbia is coming” was the call on the phone lines of the bay as we came into sight.
The response to the area covered and Jeanette’s warm enthusiasm got us planning next year’s history tour before we had even finished this years!
Note the Columbia III in the stained glass of the old church in Alert Bay.
Just like so many years ago, the Columbia III pulls into Billy Proctor’s dock as he waits to “catch her lines”.
Billy’s world famous museum.
We had a special group of people who have spent their lives in the service of others, in health care for remote communities, in food banks and inner cities, but they all listened intently to Billy’s rambling account of the problems the salmon farms in his area pose. He spoke with a solidity that a life-time of living in one spot has honed. He is an unassuming witness for us all, and we came away motivated by his quiet integrity.
Church House, an abandoned First Nations village in Bute Inlet. I doubt the old church will survive another winter.