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A visit to Billy Proctor

Posted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 2:04 pm
by Marin Faure
Many people in northwest Washington and western BC are familiar with the name Billy Proctor. Born and raised on Blackfish Sound at the top end of Johnstone Strait he mastered a number of careers including commercial salmon troller, logger and shipwright.

Alarmed by what he saw happening to the runs of native salmon due to logging, overfishing, fish farming, and mismanagement he became a strong and active advocate for the preservation of BC's salmon. He has written a number of books on various aspects of life in what in BC is known as the "raincoast," an incredibly apt description as anyone who has spent time in the area knows.

Billy has an extreme curiosity about almost everything and over the years as he walked and worked the shorelines and islands he noticed and collected all manner of things, from thousands-of-years-old stone tools to unique bottles to interesting tools and parts off boats and ships. My favorite is a gas-powered Skill saw. Just like a regular Skill saw but with a single cylinder gas engine mounted on it.

Eventually his collection grew to the point where he decided to construct s building on his property in Echo Bay to hold it and the result was what has become known as the Billy Proctor Museum.

Billy is now 82 and still going strong. Hundreds if not thousands of people visit his museum each year. He has added other buildings intended to give a glimpse of life on the raincoast.

My favorite is an exact replica of a handloggers cabin, the tiny dwelling that once dotted the shores of the islands and inlets in the first part of the 20th century. True to tradition, Billy split all the boards (shakes) and framing pieces by hand from a single cedar log using a hammer and wedges. He told me that cedar will split straight following the initial scoring by the wedges. He also told me that a handlogger could build one of these little cabins in three days.

We made the 1.5 hour run (at 20 kts) to Echo Bay on a windy, rough day the other month from Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island where we spend a couple of weeks fishing for halibut and salmon every spring. While I had read some of his books it was our first visit to his place. We were the only ones there and he came down and opened the museum for us. Fascinating person to talk to. His knowledge of the area and its sealife is unmatched in my opinion.

So for anyone cruising the area this summer a visit to Billy's is well woth the time, particularly if one has never been there. He has a small dock that will hold a boat or two (in addition to his beloved Ocean Dawn). Boaters can also moor in the harbor around the corner at Echo Bay and walk across the little peninsula to Billy's.

Two of the books he has co-written are Heart of the Raincoast and Tide Rips and Back Eddies. Both are available on Kindle as well in print. Tide Rips and Back Eddies contains a description of how the handlogger's cabin is built.

Photos are the plotter route from Telegraph Cove to Echo Bay; what it looks like enroute in the inlets; Billy's current troller, the famous Ocean Dawn; the boatshed and ways Billy built (it's larger than it looks: it was built to hold boats even larger than Ocean Dawn); shots in the museum; the exterior and interior of the handlogger's cabin; and day's end from our house at Telegraph Cove.

Posted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:37 pm
by Bob Lowe
Excellent post, Marin!

Thanks for sharing. :)

Posted: Sat Jul 16, 2016 5:55 pm
by kolive
We made this trip last summer when we visited the Broughtons. Fantastic area to cruise and we plan to go again. Nice to see the photos Marin.