The Kitnayakwa ex–Rumrunner Rediscovered

by Rick James 2019

The <em>Kitnayakwa</em>

The Kitnayakwa (Photo from Rick James from the Fraser Miles collection.)

After publishing my book Don’t Never Tell Nobody Nothin’ No How – The Real Story of West Coast Rum Running I have been contacted by many persons who have additional information. I was most intrigued to hear from Susan Ben–Oliel who revealed that she and her husband were the current owners of the Kitnayakwa.

Susan Ben–Oliel says that "there is an interesting story and one word behind the acquisition of the Kitnayakwa – my husband found it on the Seattle Craigslist! It was initially in bad shape and was partially submerged when we had it brought up to Canada in July 2009 (on the back of a flatbed truck)" Over time (and much more slowly than they would have hoped) they have been trying to restore it. They later painted the exterior and built a lean–to to cover it and a deck around it. It sits right at the edge of their lake house (on Echo Lake, at Harrison Mills). Susan says "at least close to water if not in it."

The <em>Kitnayakwa</em>

The Kitnayakwa as she was originally found. (Photo from the Susan Ben–Oliel collection.)

Throughout the U.S. Prohibition years, there were two different ways that Canadian rum runners ran their operations in southern British Columbia waters. The bulk of the trade involved a variety of Canadian small vessels delivering up liquor orders to American boats. This took place in a generally safe within B.C. waters such as Haro Strait which was soon depicted as a sea of saltwater filled with a variety of small islands serving as oases of Scotch Whiskey. The other method entailed taking on a high level of risk by delivering up booze directly onto Washington State beaches which was otherwise described as ‘jumping the line.’

One mariner who proved particularly adept at this very lucrative undertaking was Johnny Schnaar. After hauling liquor out of Victoria’s Inner Harbour for Fred Kohse in the initial years of the trade, Schnaar soon figured that he’d probably do even better with a boat of his own. Right up until Prohibition finally ended in December 1933, Johnny designed and had built five fast wood hull shore boats. The fourth one built in the boatyard of Tomotaro Yoneda on Chatham Street, Victoria, was the 45 foot 8 inches long Kitnayakwa which was powered by two high speed Lee gas engines capable of delivering 1,036 horsepower to her twin screws, which were good for up to forty knots. What was amazing is that some 91 years after her launching in Victoria in 1928, the Kitnayawka is still with us.

Susan Ben–Oliel sent some photos of the recovery and restoration of this vessel.

The <em>Kitnayakwa</em>

The Kitnayakwa (Photo from the Susan Ben–Oliel collection.)

The <em>Kitnayakwa</em>

The Kitnayakwa (Photo from the Susan Ben–Oliel collection.)

The <em>Kitnayakwa</em>

The original name of the Kitnayakwa emerges after decades of hull paint are removed.(Photo from the Susan Ben–Oliel collection.)

The <em>Kitnayakwa</em>

The Kitnayakwa during the restoration phase. (Photo from the Susan Ben–Oliel collection.)

The <em>Kitnayakwa</em>

The Kitnayakwa during the restoration phase.(Photo from the Susan Ben–Oliel collection.)

The <em>Kitnayakwa</em>

The Kitnayakwa during the restoration phase.(Photo from the Susan Ben–Oliel collection.)

The <em>Kitnayakwa</em>

The Kitnayakwa during the restoration phase.(Photo from the Susan Ben–Oliel collection.)



To quote from this article please cite:

Rick James (2019) The Kitnayakwa ex–Rumrunner Rediscovered. Nauticapedia.ca 2019. http://nauticapedia.ca/Gallery/Kitnayakwa.php

New Nauticapedia Book Just Published!

Volume Four in series

The Nauticapedia List of British Columbia's Floating Heritage Volume Four

Book — British Columbia's Floating Heritage
For more information …

Site News: March2nd, 2019

Databases have been updated and are now holding 56,584 vessel histories (with 5,550 images) and 58,184 mariner biographies (with 3,673 images).


© 2002-2019