The Tug Billmor Stuck in Ice

by Jane Gardner and John MacFarlane 2017


The Tug Billmor in Ice on the Ecstall River (Photo from the Jane Gardner collection.)

Built in 1921 in Rivers Inlet BC the tug Billmor was 42.7’ x 11.9’ x 4.8’ wooden hulled 18gt 12rt. She was originally powered with a 3hp engine but repowered much later with a 55hp Union engine.


The Tug Billmor Stuck in Ice on the Ecstall River (Photo from the Jane Gardner collection.)

In 1921–1928 she was owned by Billmor Spruce Mills & J.R. Morgan & W.E. Williams, Vancouver BC. In 1928–1931 she was owned by J.R. Morgan Ltd., Vancouver BC. In 1931–1932 she was owned by Northern B.C. Power Co. Ltd., Prince Rupert BC. In 1932–1952 she was owned by James Donaldson, Port Essington BC. She may have been operated by the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War as a tender. In 1953–1977 she was owned by Philip Turner, Queen Charlotte City BC. In 1979–1999 she was owned by Arthur Christensen, Queen Charlotte City BC. Her Registry closed 1999–10–18.


The Tug Billmor Stuck in Ice on the Ecstall River (Photo from the Jane Gardner collection.)

Jane Gardner shared some images from her collection. Gardner states that "The photos were from a photo album that my mother, Fredda Kendall, had kept. It contained mainly shots of canneries on the Skeena River where she worked at as a teenager. Her father, Stanley Kendall, was a foreman at one or more of the canneries. She was born in 1925 and there are photos of her as a child right up into her late teens at the canneries. Sadly most of the photos are not dated or labelled. The Billmor was stuck in ice and I now know that it was on the Ecstall but I don’t know any further details. My mother and her family were only at the canneries in the summer, so I don’t know why these shots of ice were included among the other shots which are all summer scenes."

Dominion Cannery

The Dominion Cannery Structure at Low Tide. (Photo from the Jane Gardner collection.)

The Dominion Cannery was constructed in 1906 on Smith Island (on Inverness Passage) by Oswald M. Malcolm, Hubert C.H. Cannon and George B. Dodwell. In 1909 it was acquired by the B.C. Packers Association. In 1923 it was owned by the British Columbia Fishing and Packing Co. It closed in 1928 when the company was merged with Gosse Packing Co. Ltd. forming B.C. Packers Ltd.

Dominion Cannery

The Dominion Cannery (Photo from the Jane Gardner collection.)

We include these photos for interest of First Nations worker housing at the cannery.


The Tug Klatawa with Tow of Fishboats (Photo from the Jane Gardner collection.)

The tug Klatawa was a cannery tender at the Dominion Cannery. She was later renamed as the Wawanesa. She was built in 1912 by Wallace Shipyards Ltd., North Vancouver BC. In 1912–1913 she was owned by The Packers Steamship Co. Ltd., Vancouver BC. In 1934–1973 she was owned by British Columbia Packers Ltd., Vancouver BC. In 1974 she was owned by British Columbia Packers Ltd., Richmond BC. In 1976 she was owned by Sophia Scholtens, Richmond BC. In 1979 she was owned by Harold J. Lennoy (MO), Powell River BC. In 1980 she was owned by Darwin Enterprises Ltd., Vancouver BC. In 1982–2008 she was owned by S.E. Quarter Fishing Co. Ltd., Parksville BC.

Author’s Note: After we published the article Bruce Wishart stated (British Columbia Nautical History Facebook Group 12/06/2017) that "The pictures were taken on the Ecstall River. In 1932 Jimmy Donaldson acquired the Billmor as part of a deal for work he did for Northern B.C. Power. He did a variety of contracts with her, including four years on fishing patrol on Haida Gwaii and a contract to run mail up to Falls River. In one of the most famous stories about Jimmy, he took her through the snowshed at Mile 56 on the Skeena during the 1936 flood. In 1952, with the launch of Donaldson Logging, Jimmy took over the famous Two Rivers, built at Skeena City and Port Essington in 1926 by Sankichi Uyeda for Jimmy and his brother Stuart, and sold the Billmor. Quite a famous northern boat!"

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. and Jane Gardner (2017) The Tug Billmor Stuck in Ice. 2017.

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