Trade Customers click here
← Back to Book Main Page

Interview in Campbell River Courier-Islander

Tugboats have been part of BC's history since 1836 and author Doreen Armitage has set out to ensure that the public knows more about them.

Armitage recently visited Page 11 Books in Campbell River to promote her latest book From the Wheelhouse: Tugboaters tell their own stories. Armitage said the book aims to capture the ins and outs of working in the industry - the tides, wild weather, breakaway barges, the jokes, the boredom, the superstitions and more.

"I interviewed 17 tugboat skippers and crew about their experiences," Armitage said. "Three were still working, some were retired, some of the stories go back to the 1930s. There's a real range."

Armitage, a retired teacher, has written two other books: Around the Sound: A History of Howe Sound-Whistler and Burrard Inlet: A History. She said she loves BC history and she loves the ocean.

"Tugboats always fascinated me," she said. "I could have written 10 more books on the subject. I knew the next book I did had to be about the ocean, I've always been fascinated by the sea."

Over the years, tugs and their crews have towed everything from food and machinery to rocks, paper, oil, salt, lumber, cars and houses. Armitage said the tug has kept BC's marine economy vital.

Tugs are called to emergencies on the water. Their crews work with the Coast Guard and fireboats to save lives and retrieve damaged vessels. Armitage said there are some hair-raising stories in her book about the wild weather tugs face, including storms, fog, riptides and whirlpools.
The book is illustrated with photos and images from the collections of the skippers who appear in the stories.
Armitage has lived in the Vancouver/Howe Sound area for 27 years and is an avid boater. She organizes workshops, talks and slide shows for history groups, schools and libraries in her spare time.