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HODDERTUG“A History”Written by Robert Nelson “R.N.” HodderThis document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

Table of ContentsPreface . . Page 3The Hodder’s Page 4The Late 1800’s . Page 5Entering the Twentieth Century . . Page 6The Roaring 20’s . . Page 7The Depression . Page 11The War Years . . Page 15The Boom Begins Page 19Hodder Tugboat Co. Ltd. . Page 27The Beginning of The Future . Page 38Epilogue . Page 422This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

PREFACEHODDER TUG “A History” was written from thememories of Robert Nelson “R.N.” Hodder. “R.N.” grew up in thetugboat industry with his father and uncle, the Hodder brothers, andis the President and owner of Hodder Tugboat Co. Ltd. He beganwriting this as a series in “The Hodder Flag”, an employeenewsletter published each month.This resulted in an anxiouslyawaited issue each month by all employees, as they all lookedforward to reading about the continuing saga of the “Hodder’s” andthe ever-changing tugboat industry. We hope this book serves asmuch enjoyment to you as “The Hodder Flag” series gave it’sreaders.3This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

The Hodder’sThe men that worked to build Hodder Tugboat are mentionedfrequently throughout this story. In an effort to make it easier torelate to each of these people as they’re spoken of, we have written abrief description of them below.John Jacob “J.J.” Hodder - Grandfather to writer, owner ofJ.J. Hodder & SonsHoratio Nelson “H.N.” Hodder - Uncle to writer, one half ofHodder Bros. TowingJames Robert “J.R.” Hodder - Father to writer, one half ofHodder Bros. TowingRobert Nelson “R.N.” Hodder - Grandson of John JacobHodder, Nephew of HoratioNelson Hodder, Son ofJames Robert Hodder,Co-owner and President ofHodder Tugboat Co. Ltd., andwriter of this story.Robert James “R.J.” Hodder - Son of writer, Co-owner andOperations Manager ofHodder Tugboat Co. Ltd.4This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

The Late 1800’sIn the early 1870’s, my Grandfather, John Jacob “J.J.”Hodder, a rugged “Newfie”, left home and headed west acrossCanada and the United States, walking, riding the rails, and hitchingrides where possible. After several months and, I’m sure, somescrapes and adventures, J.J. ended up on Fidalgo Island, one of theGulf Islands in the Northwest United States.There, he beganworking on a farm and fishing.He met and married a local girl, Elizabeth Sharp, in about1882.Elizabeth’s family were said to be direct descendants ofAdmiral Horatio Nelson of British Navy fame and J.J. andElizabeth’s first child was to be his namesake. After Horatio NelsonHodder was born in 1885 the young family departed by rowboat forthe Fraser River and settled on 160 acres on Barnston Island, PortKells, British Columbia, Canada. There they farmed, raised variouslivestock and fished salmon.My father, James Robert “J.R.” Hodder, was born onBarnston Island in 1887. He was followed by two daughters for J.J.and Elizabeth, Dorothy and Margaret.5This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

Entering the Twentieth CenturyAbout 1900, J.J. Hodder and his sons, Horatio and J.R.acquired or built a vessel made from a huge log. She was named the“Burin” and she measured 40’ x 10’. She was a sturdy, stable vessel,although quite awkward and heavy to row and sail. A gas enginewas purchased from the Easthope Engine Co. of Steveston, B.C. andthe M.V. “Burin” became the first powered gillnetter on the FraserRiver.For years I wondered where J.J. Hodder got the name“Burin” for this vessel. Then, just recently, while reading a FarleyMowat book, “Grey Seas Under”, one chapter stood out for me. Itwas headed “Burin”.As Mowat explained, Burin was a small,ancient town on Placentia Bay in Newfoundland, famous for it’sseamen. I guess that’s where it originated!“J.J. Hodder and Sons” soon began doing odd towing jobs forthe many small mills dotting the banks of the Fraser River. Thesesmall jobs led to more and in 1908 a larger tug was needed.The M.V. “Hustler” was purchased. This fine vessel was 66’long by twelve to fourteen feet wide and was powered by a heavyduty union gasoline engine of about 80 h.p. (Many years later the“Hustler” was sold to the Gilley Bros. Gravel Co. and re-named the6This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

“Gillrock”.) The “Hustler” towed logs, hog fuel barges, small trainbarges, and gravel and rock barges under the command of CaptainHoratio Hodder and J.R. Hodder during the years of 1908 to 1925.My Grandfather, J.J. Hodder died in approximately 1916.Thefamily sold the farm on Barnston Island and moved to Sixth Avenuenear Oak Street in Vancouver. The company name was changedfrom J.J. Hodder and Sons Towing to Hodder Bros. Towing.The Roaring ‘20’sThe M.V. “Hustler” towed for many firms during the FirstWorld War and into the “Roaring ‘20’s”.Rat Portage was aprominent sawmill in False Creek just inside the west end ofGranville Island. The Hodder’s towed many, many booms fromupper Fraser River to this mill. The Fraser River had dozens oflogging shows in those days from Pitt Lake up to Mission,Chilliwack, Aldergrove, Langley, etc.Nalos Lumber was a biglumber cedar mill in False Creek. There was Sweeney Cooperage,the barrel makers, B.C. Forest Products Spruce Mill, Bay Lumberand countless shingle and shake producers. Vancouver Harbour hadnumerous mills as well, including MB King Lumber, NorwoodCedar, Canada Creosote, Moodyville Lumber and another dozen ormore cedar mills. Specialty mills like Alberta Lumber and Sigurson7This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

Hardwood also operated in False Creek. Tugboat companies such asGulf of Georgia Towing, Vancouver Tug (Seaspan), Cates, CoyleNavigation, and Preston Mann were in business.The Hodderbrothers towed for many of these companies and sawmills.A near disaster happened one night in 1918. When the M.V.“Hustler” was towing a lumber barge alongside in English Bay, aJapanese freighter hit the barge broadside and sent the M.V.“Hustler” to the bottom. My Dad, J.R., was just coming out of theengine room when the collision occurred! He was knocked backdown the ladder but somehow fought his way up against thedownflood. Luckily, no serious injury was suffered by the Hodderboys or their crew. The tug was salvaged and a judgment issuedagainst the freighter, but no settlement was ever received.The“Hustler” was repaired and went back to work soon after.About 1922, the Hodders felt they needed a better tug for thetype of work they were being asked to do, which included hog fuelbarges to Tacoma and other Puget Sound ports, plus some trainbarges to Vancouver Island and Woodfibre, and log towing in theGulf of Georgia and Howe Sound.They commissioned a wellknown ship designer and builder by the name of Moscrop to build a65’ tug. She was constructed in False Creek and fitted with a brandnew product on the market: A Union “diesel” engine of 110 h.p.8This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

This was the second or third diesel tug in B.C. The new tug waslaunched in early 1924 and named “Eldoma” after the Hodder girls;mother, Elizabeth and daughters, Dorothy and Margaret.J.R. Hodder married a young Scottish girl, Jessie HendersonBrown, in the 1920’s. They had six children; my sisters, Marg,Anne, Rena, and Lynn, my brother, Blair, and me, Robert NelsonHodder.J.R. was the only one of J.J. and Elizabeth Hodders’children to marry.My Uncle, Captain Horatio Hodder always loved sailingships.Against J.R.’s better judgment (being newly married andstarting a family), Horatio seized an opportunity in 1928 to purchasethe 300’, five masted barkentine “Forest Friend”. This ship had been9This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

built in Victoria in 1916 just as steamships were dominating theoceans. She had made several trips to Australia and Europe duringthe war, but had been mothballed for many years when Horatiobought her. The “Forest Friend” was towed to Fraser Mills andmoored there for the next dozen years.I remember spending many glorious times aboard themassive “Forest Friend” when I was five to nine years old. Themasts were enormous, but to a child they were humungous! She hadsail lockers, compasses, steering wheels, hundreds of ropes, crewquarters, a steam winch, shackles, belaying pins, holystoned decksand five rigged masts to climb. What a thrill for a youngster!The brisk business of the 1920’s caused many new tugboat10This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

companies to form, mostly consisting of one tug operators. The tugscame in all shapes and sizes, as did the captains and crews whooperated them.There was Captain Bruno with the “Eagle V”, JohnWorsfould and the “Diesel”, Bob Cosilitch of River Towing, StaffByrnes, Ray Bicknel and George Walkem with Gulf of GeorgiaTowing’s “Gryphon”.Canadian Western Lumber Co., touted as the largest sawmillin the world at Fraser Mills, had a yarding steam tug called the“Macormack” driven by two side wheels, making her probably themost awkward yarding tug in the world!The Hodders, with their new tug “Eldoma”, were beginningto do some towing for Fraser Mills as “The Depression” hit in 1930.The DepressionAs we entered “The Depression” the “Forest Friend” wasforced to remain tied up at Fraser Mills and real hard times began inB.C.Many sawmills cut back production or shut down completelyas the market for lumber sagged.The Hodder brothers were11This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

fortunate that their reputation for good work and honesty over theprevious twenty or thirty years helped them maintain some of thelittle work available.They began towing from Comox to Fraser Mills and fromLong Bay and Center Bay storage to the river. They also lookedafter some of the extensive storage grounds at Point Grey flats.Rates were very low as competition became cut-throat.Towing rates were so low that despite low wages, fuel at sixor seven cents a gallon and other supplies equally cut-rate, it wasvery hard to break even with a 110 h.p. tug towing 16 sections of flatbooms. A 16 section tow from Center Bay to Fraser Mills wouldhave a gross of about 60.00.Thousands of young men streamed into the Lower Mainlandand the Fraser Valley desperately searching for work or a meal to getby for another day. Wages were 50 cents to a dollar a day plus boardon the tugs, and I believe the “plus board” was the important part ofthe wages for many. The Hodder Bros. kept several young menworking through “The Depression” and I remember some of themkindly. There was Harold Dawe, later chief engineer for Swiftsure;Kenny Strong, aptly named as he was an exceptionable athlete whosometimes thrilled me by walking the taut yarding line from the tugto the boom being towed; and Alf and Bill House, whose father,12This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

Captain W. House, lived up on the slope above what is nowStradiotti’s dock.The Hodders decided to re-power the “Eldoma” and in 1935or 1936 installed an eight cylinder, 230 h.p. Union diesel engine.This was considered to be the ultimate! They could now tow 32sections. Of course, they still couldn’t afford a searchlight or a twoway radio!I spent all my non-school time on the “Eldoma” andremember fondly the various people we met, including the crews oftugs weather-bound in Snug Cove, Bull Pass, Deep Bay, S.E. Rock,Clam Bay or Dogfish Bay. In the river there was Harry Burt, JackReid, Billy Beckman and his son, Amos, Parker Porter and his son,Cyril, Art Cooper, and many others. Their small tugs included the“Young Hustler”, “Chugaway”, “Tugaway”, “Pullaway”, and the“Seatowing”. Some of these tugs did assist work at the treacherousbridges in Marpole where many a tow would break up on a bigflood.With few two-way radios, the captains of tugs wantingassistance at Marpole would blow pre-arranged whistle signals whenapproaching McDonald Beach area (for instance; two long blasts forHarry Burt or three long for Billy Beckman), and the assistor wouldrush from his nearby residence to their tug near Oak Street.13This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

Most of the head end tugs were too high to take the head endunder the log span trestles of the Eburne Road Bridge or the old B.C.Electric Rail Bridge which was only 29 sections above EburneBridge. This forced the skipper, of say the “Annacis”, to give thehead end to the “Chugaway” below Eburne, run through the swingspan and re-hook onto the head end again. The assist boat would runback along the tow and punch it past the bridge pier. If the tow was30 or more sections, the “Annacis” would be approaching the B.C.E.Bridge before the tail end had cleared Eburne. Now the “Annacis”would drop the head end after, hopefully, getting a good aim at thevery narrow log span, run through the draw and hook on again!Needless to say, many times their aim was poor and pile-upsoccurred, but hiring two assist tugs was deemed very extravagant.The Hodder Bros. Towing tug, “Eldoma”, was lower profileand with the mast down, could go under these bridges at lowerwater. Generally speaking, they would tow up to the Sheeting (atSea Island below the Marpole bridge) on the small tide, lay over forthe ebb, and tow through the bridges unassisted at low slack. Thiscertainly was the safest method and almost no accidents occurred.14This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

The War YearsAs the “Thirties” drew to a close, rumblings of war were feltin Europe and in 1939 war was declared by England againstGermany. Canada quickly joined the conflict.Until the war started, the tugboat business was still in thedoldrums caused by the depression years, as were most industries.There were not many new tugs built during the thirties. With fewexceptions, most of the large tugs were steam powered and manystill used coal for fuel.The smaller tugs were mostly diesel,although some still had gasoline engines. The massive mobilizationfor the war effort soon had a tremendous effect on all industry.Mills, mines, shipyards, and sand and gravel companies were allgoing full blast.Labour was in short supply as thousands ofpreviously under-employed young men were called into the militaryservices.There weren’t enough tugs at hand after years of down-sizingdue to a lack of business. Everything that floated seemed to beturned into a tug or a barge and few new vessels were allowed to bebuilt because the war effort demanded all the manpower andshipyard space. The Hodder brothers were caught up in all thismadness along with everyone else.15This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

The beautiful barkentine “Forest Friend” was sold to theElworthy’s of “Island Tug and Barge” and converted to a log bargealong with other similar ships such as the “Lord Templeton”. AsHoratio and J.R. were now in their 50’s, they decided to concentrateon towing in the Fraser River working for the Canadian WesternLumber Co. at Fraser Mills. The Eldoma with her new 230 h.p.Union engine was a bit too big for river and shallow water work, soshe was sold to the McKeen’s of Straits Towing Ltd. “Straits”, whowere well connected in Ottawa, also bought other tugs including thePreston-Mann fleet of eight or nine vessels. These included the“Commodore”, “Robert Preston”, “Alert”, “Prestige”, and others.They raised the foredeck of the “Eldoma” to accommodate militarypersonnel and re-named her the Victoria Straits. She did yeomanservice for many years at “Straits” and the last I saw of her was asthe “Renner Pass” at Masset in the Queen Charlotte Islands.In 1940, Hodder Bros. Towing bought the 50’ tug “Diesel”from Captain John Worsfould. He had converted this World War Isteam powered coast guard patrol boat to diesel by fitting it with aneight cylinder, 160 h.p. Vivian engine. Old Captain Worsfould hadbeen a pipe smoker and during his time on the “Diesel” he struck somany matches under the binnacle shelf that it had become about aneighth of an inch thick from it’s original two inches. The tug also16This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

leaked considerably and, when we were not working, one of mychores was to ride my bike or walk to the foot of Blenhiem Street atShell Oil Celtic, where we then docked, and pump out the bilge.This often required two to three thousand strokes of the old handbilge pump. Oh, how I used to hate that job!The “Diesel’s” galley was down below, aft of the engine andhad a wood-burning stove. We always had a large supply of fir barkfor firewood and it was piled everywhere on deck. We were forevertripping over it and J.R. would, every once in a while, heave a cordor so overboard when Horatio wasn’t looking. This would alwaysenrage the normally gentle Captain, but he soon forgot about it .until the next time!With a length of 50’, a beam of 10’ and a draft of 6’, the“Diesel” was not one of the best designed tugs to say the least. Theold Vivian engine had air start and the reverse clutch was a largewheel in the wheelhouse that required the strength of a gorilla toturn. The steering consisted of wire and chain through many pulleysto a quadrant atop the rudder shaft. The chain often came off duringyarding sessions and caused many scary moments.One such moment occurred while towing through theQueensborough Bridge. We were normally without assistance whentowing through this bridge. We would just drop off the head end and17This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

run down the north side to punch the tail end, but this particulartime, just as we turned into the tail of the tow, the chain came off thequadrant. We managed to get a bow line on the tow and pushed andpulled it through safely while we peeveed the chain back in place onthe quadrant.We towed log booms from the storage grounds in the PointGrey flats to Fraser Mills and assisted the Canadian Tug fleet intothe North Arm Fraser River with log tows. Their fleet consisted ofthe “Active”, “John Davidson”, “Gleeful”, and “Petrel”. The riverwork kept the “Diesel” very busy, so Hodder Bros. Towing leased asmall tug called “Seatowing” and my Dad and I ran this boatwhenever I was available. Horatio ran the “Diesel” with variousother crewmen.By 1944 I decided to get a job on another tug and went to theold “Towboat Employment Agency” run by Cyril Andrews and liedabout my age. I was 13 at the time! I soon found a position withCoyle Navigation Co. on the big old steam tug “Leroi”. We weretowing train barges and occasionally a small Davis raft from thewest coast of Vancouver Island to Vancouver Harbour. The “Leroi”was about 110’ long with a 40 nominal h.p. engine (about 400b.h.p.). Coyle Navigation wasn’t in very good financial conditionand my first cheque for 51.00 (a month’s pay) bounced at the bank18This document, and more, is available online at Martin's Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net

when I tried to cash it. I had to take it ba

HODDER TUG “A History” was written from the memories of Robert Nelson “R.N.” Hodder. “R.N.” grew up in the tugboat industry with his father and uncle, the Hodder brothers, and is the President and owner of Hodder Tugboat Co. Ltd. He began writing this as a series in “The Hodder

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