Recently, a new exhibit was unveiled to the general public this past month at the local museum.
The Soyokaze which translated means "gentle winds", a double ended cod fishing boat is the latest addition to the museum linking the history of fishing and the Japanese Canadian experience.
The Soyokaze, belonging to Campbell River's Matsunaga family who had fished the local waters for over thirty years graciously donated their double end cod fishing boat to the local museum in memory of it's owner,
Custom built in 1936 for Shigekaza Matsunaga, Matsunaga fished the the waters around Quadra Island until the Second World War. Like many Japanese Canadians along the coast, the Matsunaga family was forced to sell their boat and were then interned in the Canadian interior. Two years after the war ended, the Matsunaga family returned to Campbell River and in 1957 were able to buy back their boat from the fisherman they had sold her to.
Now renamed the North Star II, Shigekaza Matsunaga returned to fishing the waters off Campbell River until 1987. Shigekaza Matsunaga had retired in 1987 and in the years following had expressed his desire to donate his lucky boat to the local museum. The Soyokaze was the family's first boat and the beginning of a prosperous life in the fishing industry. Following his death in 1995 at the age of 87, the family's decision to fulfill their father's (Shigekaza Matsunaga) wish came about in November of 1999. The fishing boat has been renamed to it's original name for historical prosperity.
Since then the boat was first partially restored at the Ocean Pacific Shipways. Donating space and more, Ocean Pacific owner Bruce Kempling set about the task of removing the rot above the water line, removing the forward deck and replacing the beams as well as the removal of the forward cabin. Structural ribbing was replaced in the Soyokaze prior to it's move to the facilities at the museum where the rest of the restoration was to take place.
Now, fully restored to it's fishing glory, a crane lifted the refurbished Soyokaze onto a moving dolly from where it was undergoing restoration by a restoration team consisting of, manager George Murdoch and shipwright John Jordan and journeyman carpenter Kevin McFeeters. The crew had worked steadily for the past ten months hidden from view on the backside of the museum where it was enclosed in a temporary shed with a plastic tarp roof. They had stripped away the old and rotten cedar planking and replaced it with fresh, new wood to match the original design.
The Soyokaze was then wheeled around from the museums side yard to the front where it now sits on permanent display.
The Soyokaze now represents early fishing history of Campbell River and Quadra Island, as well as the history of the Japanese Canadians who called Campbell River home.
Now, the outdoor exhibit will be one of two cornerstone pieces to the Museum at Campbell Rivers millennium park, which will open in the late spring. A restored steam-donkey engine from the regions early logging
years will be the other.
The Soyokazes restoration has been funded by grants from the B.C. 2000 Community Spirit program, the Canada Millennium partnership program, Human Resources Development Canada and the Vancouver Foundation.