PROCTOR, Bill




Author Tags: Maritime

Fisherman, trapper, logger and all-round West Coast guru Bill Proctor is the authority on the Broughton Archipelago—the area between northern Vancouver Island and the mainland that’s named after Captain William Broughton who accompanied Captain Vancouver in the 1790s. He was born at Port Neville on October 13, 1934 in a cabin near the Port Neville Store. A month later he moved with his parents to Freshwater Bay on Swanson Island where he was raised for the next twenty-one years.

Proctor’s colourful Full Moon, Flood Tide (Harbour $24.95) describes the archipelago’s history, wildlife, harbours, moorings, peculiar local terms and customs, and its most memorable characters such as Fritz Salem, renowned for making the best ‘corn likker.’ Proctor’s co-author was illustrator and artist Yvonne Maximchuk. The pair later collaborated for Tide Rips and Back Eddies - Bill Proctor's Tales of Blackfish Sound (Harbour 2015).

As well, with the 'Whale Lady' Alexandra Morton, Proctor earlier wrote Heart of the Raincoast: A Life Story (Horsdal & Schubart, 1999), a 'warts 'n' all' memoir of his many years on the coast. After Morton's husband died, she and her four-year-old son stayed at Echo Bay and she took a job as a seasick, greenhorn deckhand on Billy Proctor's fishboat. Then Maximchuk spent eight years as his deckhand.

BOOKS:

Heart of the Raincoast: A Life Story (Horsdal & Schubart, 1999). With Alexandra Morton

Full Moon, Flood Tide (Harbour Publishing, 2003). With Yvonne Maximchuk

Tide Rips and Back Eddies - Bill Proctor's Tales of Blackfish Sound (Harbour $24.95). 978-1-55017-725-1 With Yvonne Maximchuk

[BCBW 2015] "Maritime"

Tide Rips and Back Eddies
Excerpt (2015)



In 1946 I bought my first book on fish.
I saw it advertised in a fishing magazine and ordered it from the Biological Station in Nanaimo.
The package arrived COD at the post office in Alert Bay and I paid for it with money I made fishing spring salmon from my rowboat.
The book was called Fishes of the Pacific Coast of Canada and remains the best book on fish that I have found.
I still refer to it for details about some species.
When I got the book I took it with me to my little pool and when I’d find a fish I’d find the name of it in the book.
There was a small bay close by that had a lot of crab grass on the bottom.
I learned it was called eel grass but I called it crab grass because that was where the big crabs lived.
I would take my mom’s strainer with me and a bucket, and looked for little fish.
Over time I identified 22 species that called that bay home.
Round about that time there were two missionaries who came once a month to visit Mom.
They’d paddle over in a dugout canoe and Mom always told me to go down and help them out of the canoe.
So I would and one would always say, “How is the heathen today?”
This was because I was not going to school.
They were always trying to get Mom to send me to boarding school.
Finally they reported me to welfare.
Then the government boat called Sheila started coming around.
I took to hiding in the bush when I saw them coming, so I ended up spending a lot of time in the bush.
It really bothered me to think that these people wanted to take me away and leave my mother there alone.
As I was spending a lot of time in the bush, I got to know all the different species of trees and plants that grew on our land.
In 1948, a salesman came in selling books, so I bought a 10-volume set of The Book of Knowledge, which I still have and I still use.
So, instead of going to school, I was learning about the things around me.
Now when people come to my museum, some ask me, “How often do you go out in the real world?”
I say, “I think this is the real world.”