Captain Cook: the man and the tugboat

Tugboat, False Creek

Captain Cook Tug Passes Granville Island, Vancouver, 1985

Captain James Cook, explorer, navigator, and cartographer, was born in Yorkshire, England, on 7 November 1728. His life at sea began in the merchant navy (as did my grandfather’s), transporting coal along the English coast, graduating to the Royal Navy in 1755.

His first Canadian adventures came during the Siege of Quebec and the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. Cook’s mapping talents, which were vital to the British victory, drew the attention of the Admiralty. He went on to map the coastline of Newfoundland, followed by commissions to explore the Pacific Ocean.

Cook’s third voyage (1776–79), was intended to seek the western entrance to the fabled Northwest Passage.

Though the expedition sailed under express orders “to proceed northward along the coast as far as latitude 65°, taking care not to lose any time in exploring [other] rivers and inlets, or upon any other account,” his explorations led him to the Mowachaht summer village of Yuquot, in Nootka Sound, where, on March 31, 1778, landing parties from Cook’s ships Resolution and Discovery became the first Europeans on record to set foot upon what is today known as Vancouver Island.

The hospitable meeting there is remembered with the European name of Friendly Cove.

Later in the expedition, Cook had a less-benign run-in with Hawaiian islanders, where he was bludgeoned and stabbed to death on February 14, 1779.

This historic note is by way of introduction to the humble namesake tugboat, workhorse of the BC coast, built in 1966.

In this photograph, made on a rainy day in 1985, the 124 ton, 21-metre Captain Cook is seen towing a load of coal into Vancouver’s False Creek. Behind lies the recently-established public market, and other attractions of Granville Island, including Bridges Restaurant, and the Emily Carr Institute of (later, the University of) Art and Design.

Buildings that once housed False Creek industries now served as artists’ studios and retail stores. The Arts Club Theatre still produces top-notch plays and musicals.

On the horizon, the view (via my Mamiyaflex camera’s 80mm lens) from Granville Bridge includes (L-R) new development along Creekside Drive, Fisherman’s Wharf Marina, the BC Credit Union Building (1441 Creekside Dr.) and the south end of the Burrard Street Bridge. Softened by moisture-laden air, the horizon includes peekaboos of Seaforth Armoury, Molson’s Brewery (its clock shows 5;29), Burrard Inlet, Kitsilano condos below West Broadway, and the misty outline of Point Grey.

As far as my seafaring days are concerned, I used to enjoy renting kayaks at Ecomarine, poking around False Creek and further afield, out into English Bay and over to Stanley Park. Eventually, after an ocean kayaking course or two, I landed a guiding job, on Vancouver Island, taking clients to many of the history-steeped locations along coastal inlets and islands.

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  • Ron Waller - You must know Ken Gay and knew his father. Has has some fascinating stories…April 27, 2017 – 4:30 pmReplyCancel

    • Raymond Parker - Hi Ron. I’m not sure that I know Ken Gay. Where would I know him from?April 27, 2017 – 4:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Terry Rea - The “Arts Club Theatre” was the site of the Pacific Bolt Company
    that moved to Marine drive after a fire destroyed the building in the ’50’s.April 25, 2017 – 7:05 pmReplyCancel

    • Raymond Parker - Thanks for that bit of history, Terry. Lots of it on False Creek, some of which I’ll tackle in an upcoming post.April 26, 2017 – 7:07 amReplyCancel


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