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History of the SSI Power and Sail Squadron

Dr. Harold Helm

Accession Number Interviewer
Date Location
Media cassette tape Audio CD mp3 √
ID 105 Duration 34 min.




Unknown Speaker 0:00
He took his basic course, on retiring from the commander's position went on into Pacific mainland district to eventually become the district commander. Upon retiring from this position he has made was made public public relations officer and held that position until coming to coming to Saltspring. He arrived here, here in 1972, to find that a study course was already in progress here. And because of his background, he was able to assist in the formation of the squadron here on Saltspring island. He is now retired member of the organization. I present Dr. Harold Hill, thank you.

Unknown Speaker 0:45
Thank you for inviting me. We as a system Public Relations Officer in our squadron here, I welcome any chance to spread the good news. Now, before I go into the history of Power Squadron on Saltspring, I think I have to start way back the history of Power Squadron itself. And it originated in 1914. And Can everybody hear me all right 1914 at the Boston Yacht Club in United States, Boston, Massachusetts, and it was a group formed to better the conditions and educate the boaters that they have, they're in better seamanship, and better boat handling and this sort of thing. And it was strictly a private thing to begin with. Subsequently, other yacht clubs got the idea and a Power Squadron was started and formed in Detroit, Michigan, in 1919 39, and all 1922 1938. In 1938, a group of Windsor voters decided to go over to Detroit. And take a course Powerscourt is of course at when they try it. And then that formed the basis of the formation of the Windsor powers project. And it wasn't too long after that before several other groups were formed in Ontario. And with the eventually, with the formation of Canadian power squadrons, which now is a Dominion wide organization. We have power squadrons in every province in Canada, just recently in new in Newfoundland, and also in the Yukon. So that it pretty well covers the country and the 1941 is when Canadian powers pardons for farm, which was the sort of the mother of all of ours carbons in the country. The despite the original name, right from the outset, we have not only taught powerboating, but also taught sail. And there's a special course which deals with sail alone. And another course which is seamanship sail course, I'm not going to go into all the details of those things. But if anybody is interested, if anybody has a boat, and has never taken the Power Squadron course, I have some pamphlets here which are free to take if you like the the idea of power sparring is to seach safe boating. And in teaching safe boating, we try to teach courtesy on the water. You know, if you're courteous to other people, more than likely they're going to be react in the same way. So that we like to, we'd like to think that we set an example for people who are not Power Squadron members or have taken the course many people take the course and don't necessarily join the squadron. But we'd like to. It's not a matter of empire building. We like to get enough people coming into power squadrons all the time to keep on the work because when you get older like I am why you start getting tired of doing this for 26 years now and you'd like to have things somebody else is going to come in and take your place or strictly a nonprofit organization. And every year we get a 50% increase in pay, which still keeps our pay at zero. So but you do get another little compensation if you do a certain amount of work in a year you get one of these little bars to put on your sleeve. I've got 27 of them so it's a little bit heavy on the one arm. But this is this is your only compensation other than the satisfaction of having done a good job. Now the the nobody, nobody gets any remuneration except the office staff who are paid employees back in Scarborough Ontario, the in order to join Power Squadron, you must take the prescribed course, which is this course here, which has a lot of material about charts. Don't please don't call them maps charts. And it tells you how to operate a boat. And there's a series of homework that you have to do as you go along. And if you do your homework and do it properly, then the final examination really is not any sort of terror whatsoever. The each Squadron, and district and national Like for instance, this is power squadrons publication, which comes out about four times a year called the sounder and it deals strictly with local affairs. This is Vancouver Island district's publication, which deals with all the Spartans 17 squadrons on on Vancouver Island, which includes Pender and Saltspring. National, which is the governing body produces this magazine again about four times a year, which is tells you what they're doing down at the governing board. And when we talk about governing board, a squadron commander would be represented at a district council meeting, and the district commander would be represented at a governing board meeting back in Scarborough, so that you go through the channels, and eventually you'll get what you want to, to whom you want to get to. Now the, in addition to that, Vancouver Island district puts out a roster, which includes the names of all the people who are in power Squadron, and the squadron that they belong to. And as they say, there's 1717 squadrons in Vancouver and Vancouver at a distance to the Civic mainland district also has a roster. And in order to just tell you this little trick in order to get around the taxes that you have to pay, if this was listed as a roster, they just listed as a continuation of their regular communication, which gets away from from the dominion sales tax get away from the provincial sales tax, and each one of those things at the district level, save us about $2,000 in tax. So that, again, I say we're strictly a nonprofit organization. This is the flag and this, as you can well imagine with nine stripes, and it was designed before Newfoundland came in to the Confederation and they decided that it was sort of upsetting to try and get an extra. And this has been registered with the federal government. And our honorary patron is Duke of Edinburgh, Scotland. I'll just show you this other flag here. When you get to be a life member. After you've been around for so many years, you get to be a life member if you do some work, and this is the kind of a flag which replaces this one for a life member. On false training, because of our heritage, we have this pennant This is the Saltzman palette that was taken largely from the from HMS Ganges, with the Indian elephant and everything. So there is a historic value to this. And there's a little story about this. I'll tell you about as time goes along. In 19. So 1973 I arrived on the island and I had just finished farming a squadron called Seymours carbon I belong to Nora Nora van which is a North Vancouver squatter. And I had just finished doing all the paperwork and making the application perform seamless for them. So I was unwell with shape two, I knew all the tricks of the trade to get the squadron formed on the island. You had to have 12 charter members that was the minimum that I think now it's up to 25 but the charter members are all registered on here and because of this then we got our charter or one and one of the things I would like I have to point out is that we are chartered as Saltspring Island Power Squadron. But we now call ourselves Saltspring Island power and sail squadron because they were the pressure from the sale people, I was one of myself and I didn't really matter that much. But we had to change our name to Saltspring on power and salespartner. But the you'll notice that some spring is spelt with one word. I don't want to start a controversy, but all the charts.

Unknown Speaker 10:35
The nautical charts, chose Saltspring Island, one word. And because we're sort of a seagoing type of conference was organization wide, then we decided that would be the right way to do it. Now, some time ago, I gave these albums to Peggy and she took whatever material she wanted from him. And it shows the goings on in the squadron right from day one. And the two people who who were responsible for starting the Study Club, which was started under the auspices of the Victoria Paris by them are no longer on the island. One is, I think, down in Colorado, and the other one is up at Clearbrook. Jackpot the carrot Does anybody remember Jack pot, the current and Jack and Bill hood or Craigie hood, whichever you'd like to call them, had a study group going when I arrived on the island. And, of course, having arrived, they then got a communication that I had arrived on the island and I knew all about forming power scarves in squadrons. And which we did. So we got our chart in 1974. And that was our first annual meeting. And so that these people were deserted a great deal of credit. And it was the one Jack Parker was the one who is responsible for designing this flag here. He did very meticulously on the history of the of the island. And it was I said, taken this little bag was taken from the HMS Ganges, which so we go back quite a way and I'll show you a little something here. This is the chart the training chart, I really try and hold it up. And you'll notice this is the chart of our area right here. And this chart is used right across Canada. When I took the curves 27 years ago, we used an American 1210 chart, which was Martha's Vineyard chart. But through the efforts of a group of Vancouver people and coast people, we managed to convince them that this was much better than their chart. And it would be more interesting because it was taken from town I can tell another thing about trucks. I was I was saying the desert are on a boat on a golf predicted lager. And we stopped in at Silver Bay on the way back and a fella came running across the dock and he said it was foggy it was in April to see and he says can you point me to the north arm jetty. And so they Skipper this boat that I was on he was an Irishman and crusty says that you've got a compass and he said yes I gotta choose can you use the damn thing? So anyway, he reached up here 45 foot volley reached up and pulled down one of these things and spread it out in the fellas eyes, bugged out. He says, Hey, I gotta get me one of them maps. Well, at this park right there. So anyway, I we never didn't know whether he managed to get to the Northland jetty. But anyhow, just look and see. Are they originally, the only people who could be Power Squadron members were men. Male. And this was an I don't I can't honestly say whether this is a case in the US power squadrons or not because most of the things we did, started being patterned after USPS. But then we started went our own way and originally the course this course that I showed you This thing here was called it's called voting course, it was originally called piloting. Well, that turned a few people off because they Oh, that's much too technical much too difficult and they wouldn't do it. Based on their example, we changed the name to voting, and a lot more, the course exactly the same. It just changed the name. So anyway, about 1975 and then been considered for a couple of years, and it was put on the back burner and so forth as to whether ladies could become members or not. And it wasn't a matter. I don't think it was male chauvinism. But whatever. Anyway, they. Anyway, they decided to, to take it up. But they it could only be done at a an annual conference. And that's just happened once a year. So it was brought up and it was tabled to the next Annual Conference, the next day it was passed. And one of these little sticky parts about it was that if you were a lady associate, if you lady and took the course, passed it and decided to join, you could become a lady associate. And it didn't cost you didn't have any annual dues. But if you became a member, then you had to pay annual dues. So that the understanding was that if you change from maybe associate to member, then you pay the annual dues, but you could not go back to being a lady associate. It was sort of a one way trip. So anyway, they, despite the fact that they instructed actor, the Secretary and did various other things, proctoring, and so forth, they couldn't become members, and they couldn't vote, and they couldn't hold off. So on all levels, we haven't yet had a lady Chief Commander, but we've had, we've had lady district commanders. And so it's coming, it's coming along, too, so that we're looking forward to there on the other MIDI chief commandments. And they. They we have Junior associates, juniors can take the course and there was some I was at an executive meeting this morning. And there's some discussion about allowing juniors to become full members without going through the process of being juniors that the information we've gotten. And, incidentally, our current training officer is Don watt. And he had an unexpectedly large class last year 56 students, which just about took his breath away, but he managed to get through, he's still in pretty good shape. Having taken the course and pass the final examination, you would then be invited to join the power. And I don't know different people get different ideas, I don't think we're in the process of empire building. But when you do have to get enough people coming in to keep the turnover going to keep what I like to call a good work going on. The several courses once you have taken the basic course, several courses, you can take the same as ship as Lance piloting, Jr, Navigator, and then just navigator and by the time you've taken these courses since that day, one of your members down here, Max Fitch has his his certificate is completely full. He is now a full fledged navigator, according to his chart, and he has helped a lot of people in scribing. He's been very, very, very good, very helpful. And we hope you'll stay here forever. But in any case, you get a lot of satisfaction out of helping people and I have never regretted being in power Scotland because the benefits far outweigh all the little things that you have to do to keep things going. And the one thing I'd like to clarify matters when you get to be or have the navigator qualifications, you could safely navigate for about anywhere in the world. But you wouldn't be a licensed captain. So you'd have to do that. But you'd be amazed at the number of Fisher fishermen commercial fishermen who have taken as a matter of fact Vancouver Power Squadron about 15 years ago put on a special Power Squadron course for fishermen only you A lot of them didn't even know how to read a conference or read a chart, they just going over there. And so it was amazing how many of them took the course and murder. And one of our past commanders has conducted a VHF course, the very high frequency radio course for people who wanted to get a license in that. And Oliver summers from he's from Oak base squadron.

Unknown Speaker 20:34
He had taken the course right up to right up to Navigator, and he was the Escort vote for the Maori race. On 1972 73, something like that, I forget the exact date. And he arrived, right pinpoint where he was supposed to. And that it gave him a lot of satisfaction and all that it couldn't be, couldn't be done with the training that to get his credit, his landfall was right on target. Now I am in Power Squadron in Canada, we have the latest comp. And this is something like the national data keep changing as I talk. But the last count I had, which is the most current one is 25,610 members right across Canada. So we're not a small organization. Vancouver Island district, we have 18 squadrons, and there's 20 261 members in Vancouver Island district for which we have I think it's 9093 of those 20 261 members, we started out with 12. We now have 93. So we're doing it there's a the other another district is in Pacific mainland and BC interior. And there are squadrons up in the Yukon. Now they have Spartans in Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland. So the the flag, of course, I've described and the strike represent the nine provinces, as they were at the time the flag was, was given federal confirmation. And going back to our own history, which is the one you're most interested in. The study club was started in 73. graduated in 74. And we got the war to the one I showed the frame in 1974. I'm one of the charter members on this and you can earn it. So Peter bangham. A lot of you remember Peter Bangaram, I'm sure very fine gentleman. Bryce and Jim Bryce. Clark, myself, Jim holder, Bill hood, he was one of the original ones out Howe, who is no longer with us, and so on all, along with us, is kind of a an omen of what's to come. You know, you just wonder how many of these people are going to still be here next year. Dick Toynbee and John Watson and Crick, Jacques Puskar. Now, the we started with that, with that course here. A couple of years later, we had inquiries from Pender Island, because there were quite a number of people over there who belong to Power Squadron, but there was no Squadron on Pender island. So that the study group here led to the to the center, we'd have give a lecture here on a Wednesday night, Thursday night, we'd go to Pender Island and give the same lecture capsule 430 Ferry and catch the 930 back and as I started a quick run there and back. And so we give the same lecture in Pender. And to begin with these people joined Saltspring Island Power Scotland but for all you people who know how the different people on the islands feel. The current incumbent chief commander says you should have called squatting in the Gulf Islands parish by them because you're now these people are very jealous of one island as against the other. However, we don't have a Pender Island squadron. And we gave lectures Wednesday night here Thursday night on Pender in the following year, Friday night on main island, where they had a study group going and while they joined our squadron they and eventually dropped the membership. They never did formal Scargo on main island. But we, originally when classes were started, like here, they started in September, and finished in about the end of February or some middle of March, something like that. And we ran into quite a few problems that this was a two hour lecture, I ran into quite a few problems with people who wanted to go away in January, Hawaii or something like that. And they missed some of the key lectures because more often than not the way the program was set up. All the good stuff came after the New Year, see, and saw that. When I was training officer and Norman's president, I recognized what was happening. So I put some of the good medium before Christmas, we kept a lot more students, because we were having a lot of people dropped out. Because as one man says, well, he says, it wasn't what I thought it was gonna be. I said, Well, what did you think it was going to be? Help us help tell us what's the problem. He said, I really don't know I don't want my money back. I just, I'm just not going to come anymore. But in any case, we've had good success. And as I say, with it was quite a shock to Don to have 56 people show up for the course last year. This year, it's not quite that bad. It was 33 altogether. So anyway, the air and water law and run out of water law, were the two people responsible for trying to get something started on main island. And then they eventually moved over here. And they have been very active in power in Saltspring power squat, and ever since that time, and normally, we train anywhere from 25 to 30. Students, which is a nice, convenient class, because they when you start getting into work on the charts, you need a great big table like this for one chart pretty well. So it gets a little tough when you get the classes too big. And so I couldn't begin to give you a number of people who have taken the course and passed it. And even if you don't pass the course, we take the attitude as at least you've been given the information that is there and it's gonna help you in your, in your, your voting activities. And I tend to think that too much emphasis has been put on, pass and fail and so forth, you'd like to see everybody pass. But on the other hand, even if they don't pass, they still have the information and they can make good use of it. I myself shy I had a 25 foot cruiser before I took the power Spartan course and I just shocked to think of some of the things that I had done and not done. Before I took the course it was really kind of thing. The as I say we the main was changed to to power and sale at somebody's behest. I don't know, just who suggested that I couldn't even though I was a sailor, myself, I really couldn't care less. Because really, everybody knew that was power and sale. An amazing kind of kind of a heavy cumbersome name on the planet has the when you design a pennant for your squadron or the how the prude it has to go to the governing board has to be approved and they have a wall that's covered his squadron pennants back. And after you attain 20 of these little merit marks, you only get one a year. And you have to do at least 20 hours of work in order to get on the scene. When you've got 20 then you automatically qualify to become a life member. And the nice thing about being a life members you don't have to pay dues and dues are very reasonable $25 a year. Which one little part goes to headquarters national. And another part goes to the district because they have district meetings about five times a year. I was born just a week ago Sunday up at Nanaimo and generally held up on the island somewhere. And about what year was it?

Unknown Speaker 29:40
86 was that we had the we had the conference. We had the annual conference on Saltspring and it was one of the most successful conferences that have been ever held on in Bangkok around the I was doing the bottom of my boat over Westpark Marina had it up on the dollies. And fella was working on his twin off drive thing next door and he says oh where are you from? I said Saltzman he said I was over there want to go to a conference power squatter conference. It was great. He said the food was just fantastic and really read that was at the at the harbor house and it was one of the best two meals that I have ever seen at a conference. Now I think that pretty well covers the history unless somebody has questions they would like to ask and I'd be pleased to

Unknown Speaker 30:39
function in the inland

Unknown Speaker 30:43
lakes unlike the sea and terrier courses on my Copenhagen lake and the various lakes, but different people say to Well, I saw a fella flying a postcard or flag and he wasn't behaving in a very voters, you know, wasn't very courteous and so forth. And I said Well, to begin with, he may not have been in Power Squadron. I have a couple of books up here. I turned them over to Peggy a while back and I think she took up material that she liked. And Jake, you know, you copy copies. And in here there's a little little story about the about the squatter in Panama, which they did quite a bit of research before they found and really what it says says the colors of the pennant are those of the official flag of Canadian power and sail squadrons, flies white and superimposes Red Indian elephant as as contrasted to an African elephant. The the red elephant with the blue nautical crown on a white fly is taken from the ship's badge of HMS Ganges. This vessel was the flagship flagship of the Royal Navy's Pacific station 1857 to 1860. She was the last sailing battleship commission for service outside home waters. HMS Ganges was also the last battleship of its type, to actively actively patrol the waters around Saltspring Island. When the village of Ganges was founded, it was named for this vessel a Karen was arrested in 1967 and Saltspring Island Centennial Park to commemorate the close connection of the ship with Salt Spring Island. The Governing Board the governing board's approval on October the second 1974 Add an another link between Saltspring Island and this famous ship Saltspring Island power and sales Carter members are proud to fly this historical badge on the waters at once flew 114 years ago. So if any of you like to look at these shows, right from the first graduating class, and so forth, and I want to thank you all for being very patient and listening to me. I hope you all heard what I say and I hope I didn't talk too long.

Unknown Speaker 33:38
On behalf of the membership, may we thank you. Very enlightening report. I think it was more than informative and very effective that I'm I think a lot of us are interested in our time with HMS Ganges. Those elephants for those of you that saw the model down on display of modes there were only stern to the vessel. I think there were several Elvis on wouldn't elephant's neck on the stern of the vessel so next time you have a look at it, you'll see that so it ties in our history. Beautiful with Salt Spring and I think one girl said today we have a close up