John Franklin Gooldrup Boat Builder

by Rita Willoughby 2014

John F. Gooldrup

John F. Gooldrup (Photo from the Rita Willoughby collection. )

My father, John F. Gooldrup was born in Pender Harbour in 1922, John, called Jack, was a clever and competent man who worked successfully as a blacksmith, fisherman, logger, carpenter, boat designer and builder, and was able to make most of his own engine repairs. In later years he owned and operated a small fleet of boats that ran loggers to and from work at McNab Creek, near Port Mellon BC. Born just before the depression years he did not have the advantage of a formal education. He was educated primarily in the practicalities of life through necessity, especially during the hungry thirties. Jack’s role models in life were his clever New Brunswick blacksmith father, and his mother and her seafaring Scandinavian family. There are some great stories of the family’s boating sagas during the 1890 Alaskan Gold rush and their 1917 migration from Whonnock BC, to Pender Harbour BC.

When our Norwegian immigrant relatives arrived in Whonnock, BC, about 1887, they had to make a living on land that was mostly undeveloped wilderness. Life was hard and aside from learning a new language, clearing land and growing food, they fished. Family traditions say they had been encouraged by the British Columbia government to help develop the fishing industry. Eventually, during the Pender Harbour years, it became apparent that when areas opened for fishing each season it was the boats that were first to arrive, at any given location, that were the most successful. Soon it became most important to design a faster and better fishing boat. Imaginations fuelled by their uncle’s practical boat building experience, and stories of the record breaking speed of the American racing hulls and the PT boats of the war, the Gooldrup men’s minds became ignited by the fires of invention.

Jack and his two brothers pooled their combined minds and came up with ideas that would revolutionize the fishing industry. They, in effect, designed a planing hull that was wider, faster, more maneuverable, more stable, durable and stronger than ever before, and adapted it to the working fish boat. The overall appearance was more streamlined and modern to accentuate these improvements.

According to an article in Popular Boating Magazine (June 1963, page 111 by Lester R Peterson) he says: "The first of the family designed boats that planed was Jack’s Reef Isle, launched in 1945". During his career as a boat builder at the Gooldrup Boat Works in Gibsons, BC on the Sunshine Coast, from approximately 1960–1967, Jack was able to produce about 12–14 boats in the 23–37 foot range.

Those who knew him would probably agree that he was a unique individual with a great wit and a sharp tongue. As his daughter I was impressed by his ability to start his own business and have it function so well with little experience. I am also intrigued by the fact that he was able to create it from those ideas he learned through his early work experience as a builder, logger and particularly as a fisherman. But on learning more about what he accomplished I can see that he used more than that. He was gifted with what one aunt called the ‘Gooldrup Genius’ which was the ability to create a totally new concept as the need presented itself.

Jack was a modest and private person as I learned from some of the many people who came to pay him their respects at his funeral in January 1991. They told me of instances when he had helped them or others personally with gifts of money or of time or compassion. My sister and I had no idea about his secret life but in the end both of us were proud of this hard working self–made man.

The list of vessels constructed by the Gooldrup family is not complete.

Rita G

The Rita G. 1944 (Photo from the Rita Willoughby collection. )

The Rita G. was named for me by my father. I was the first child born, then my sister 10 years later. Dad said the name of this boat was maybe jinxed (seamen were a superstitious lot) because it totally burned up not long after the launching.

Reef Isle

The Reef Isle 1945c (Photo from the Rita Willoughby collection. )

It is thought that she was owned by Bob Vinblad in the Queen Charlotte Islands.


The Haldis looking more elegant in the water 1960. (Photo from the Rita Willoughby collection. )

Dalann and Haldis

The Dalann and the Haldis 1960 (Photo from the Rita Willoughby collection. )

The Haldis (owned by Andy Atchison) and the Dalann (owned by Dal Triggs) were built in 1960.


Dalann in the water 1960. (Photo from the Rita Willoughby collection. )


The Squid underway after launching. (Photo from the Rita Willoughby collection. )

The Squid was reported in the newspaper as the 4th vessel to be produced by Jack Gooldrup. It was built for Frank Lee who fished gillnets for Nelson Brothers Fisheries Ltd. at Pender Harbour BC. She differed from her sisters in that the hull was constructed of one and one eighth inch red cedar plank on oak ribs. She had yellow cedar bulkheads and beams. She was 33’ x 9.6’ x 3.5’. Her round stern was ‘picket design’. She was powered by 150hp Gray Marine engine driving a 24–18 Kennedy wheel through a 2.5 to 1 reduction gear. She had an Easthope drum drive operating an open net drum – a Gooldrup innovation. Her first deployment by owner Frank Lee was at the entrance to Smith Inlet, 300 miles up the coast.


The Maxine at launch 1962. (Photo from the Rita Willoughby collection. )

The Maxine was completed along with another vessel, the 34’ x 9.5’ Maranatha. The Maranatha’s 12’ cabin was completed, and the engine installed by Jack Gooldrup with the assistance of Harold Bernhof. Owner Ross Roth completed the interior himself. Both vessels were powered by 280hp Chrysler marine engines. The Maxine was owned by Alf Hansen. The name Maxine was chosen in defiance of a superstition that it is unlucky to use the name of another vessel that had met a violent end. The Darlene, named for his daughter, burned while Hansen was fishing off Cape Scott in 1956. A replacement, (the first Maxine, was named for Mrs. Hansen) exploded and burned during a storm off Nootka Sound in 1961.

The Maranatha, 34 feet, was built in 1962 for Ross Roth.

The Tideline, 24 feet, was built in 1963 for Ray Fletcher.


The Stevie 1963 (Photo from the Rita Willoughby collection. )

She was taken up the coast to her owner (name not known) after launching.


The Sain–Ko (Photo from the Rita Willoughby collection. )

Logger Bill Braun and his wife Jean (my aunt) of Selma Park were faced with finding a place to live when he took a job at Zeballos on the west coast of Vancouver Island. My aunt Jean’s brother, Jack Gooldrup, suggested a float home on a catamaran hull. The hull was decked with a 31’ x 13.6’ platform supported by two pontoons 4’ x 2’. The after half of the deck was covered by a cabin which in turn was divided into a bedroom and pilothouse–kitchen–livingroom. She was powered by a 260hp Interceptor engine mounted on the deck. Three steel struts hang the shaft between teh two pontoons. The pontoons draw 14 inches of water and support a log guard beneath the propeller. All the plywood joints were scarfed, glued and rivetted. The pontoons were sheathed with fibreglass below the waterline, gumwood shoes and steel bow plates.

Reporter Les Petersen reported that because the engine required 30 hours of run–in this could not be completed prior to departure. At two–thirds throttle the pontoons broke clear and indicated that good speed would be available not normally experienced by displacement hulls and most unusual for a houseboat. Jack Gooldrup piloted his sister and her husband, and their daughter, Jay–Lynn (and her puppy Ko–Ko) to Zeballos via Juan de Fuca Strait. While Bill Braun was logging his wife Jean planned to make some extra income trolling from the houseboat.

Sandy B

The Sandy B 1963. (Photo from the Rita Willoughby collection. )

In 1963 she was owned by Alex Baikie.

The John Henry (I), 26 feet, was built in 1965 for Harry J. Smith. She is the Persephone of ‘The Beachcombers’ TV show.

The Sandy, 32 feet, was built in 1962 for John Gooldrup.

To quote from this article please cite:

Willoughby, Rita (2014) John Franklin Gooldrup Boat Builder. 2014.

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