The Gillnetter Eva in Finn Slough BC

by John M. MacFarlane 2014


Al Mason painting the name on the bow of the wooden gillnetter Eva. (Photo from the Al Mason Collection.)

The Eva (#13K3752) was built in 1937 at the Suzuki Brothers Boat Yard as a Japanese–style double–ended gillnetter. She is 29.6’ x 8.0’ x 3.0’ carvel plank construction, cedar over oak. She was originally owned by Henry Jacobson, from Finn Slough BC. She required rebuilding by the Kishi Brothers Shipyard in the 1950s. In the 1960s she was owned by Gus Jacobsen (Henry’s nephew), also of Finn Slough BC. In late 1990s Al Mason, a highly skilled model builder and shipwright, traded a beautifully constructed scale model of the Eva for the vessel herself. She fished commercially to 1993 with fishing licence #23653.

Mason also worked on the rebuilding of the 127 foot Miki–class tug tug Kuulakai, docked in Steveston BC. The Kuulakai was built in 1944, as the former U.S. Transportation Corps tug L.T.465. There is an interesting video showing Mason working on the restoration of this fine old tug boat. he utilized

Finn Slough

Finn Slough at low tide. (Photo from Nauticapedia Collection.)

Finn Slough is a tiny Fraser River fishing community located at the south end of No. 4 Road in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. The community has approximately 30 residents who live in wooden houses, both floating and built on stilts, along the marshy river bank.

The Finn Slough settlement was established in the early 1880s by immigrant Finnish fishermen. One of the last tidal communities in British Columbia it is bounded by Gilmore Island on the Fraser River side and by the dyke that protects Richmond from Fraser River flooding. In the 1940s and 1950s the community had grown to 70 households.

Finn Slough

Structure built on pilings. At high tide and spring freshet the water rises up beneath the structures. (Photo from Nauticapedia Collection.)

Today the properties exist without official land tenure status. The residents have been working since 1993 to obtain a Crown Lease but little progress has been made to date. The community makes a voluntary payment, in lieu of taxes, to the City of Richmond for services that they receive. Residents installed composting toilets to reduce the ecological impact on the river habitats.

Finn Slough

Float home grounded in the mud during low tide. (Photo from Nauticapedia Collection.)

The homes on the Slough are mainly built on pilings but some are built on floats. The structures on pilings are often converted from old net sheds and old original scow houses built by the early Finnish fishermen.

Finn Slough

The drawbridge across Finn Slough (Photo from Nauticapedia Collection.)

The south side of the Slough is located on Gilmore Island, a low piece of land which has been accreting from river–borne sediments since the settlement was established (and perhaps even before). The island side is accessed by a wooden foot drawbridge. The residents note that "it creates a definite sense of isolation from the urban areas of Richmond and Vancouver". Finn Slough is a unique place in the midst of a busy city that truly moves in harmony with the river.

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2018) The Gillnetter Eva in Finn Slough BC. 2018.

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