Ban­ner im­age: ‘Look­ing across the stern of the four mast­ed bar­que Comet launched in Port Glas­gow, Scot­land, in 1891 to the stern of the three mast­ed ship Melanope launched in Liv­er­pool, Eng­land, in 1876.’ Roys­ton, B.C. 2010. John Pol­lack pho­to


Rick James as a boy
Young 14 year old Ricky James pic­tured here with some Cal­gary gen­tle­man who he helped catch a 16 pound coho while work­ing as a sports fish­ing guide with Ordano’s Ma­ri­na, Cowichan Bay, which his Dad was man­ag­ing in 1961.

Rick James is a writer, mar­itime his­to­ri­an, and pho­tog­ra­ph­er.  Many peo­ple rec­og­nize him from his role in The Sea Hunters doc­u­men­tary Mala­hat: Queen of the Rum Run­ners, which aired on Canada’s His­to­ry chan­nel. Rick grew up in Vic­to­ria, one of the most beau­ti­ful port cities any­where on the plan­et, which Sir James Dou­glas de­scribed as a per­fect “Eden” what with its open Gar­ry oak mead­ow­lands which stood out in sharp con­trast to our of­ten wet and drea­ry north­west coast. Of course, liv­ing right be­side a wa­tery Par­adise, he end­ed up spend­ing many a week­end with his Dad sports fish­ing out in the fam­i­ly clink­er built run­about June Bug in his young years.

Rick "Lou Lemming" James selling the radical rag Georgia Straight, corner of Yates and Douglas, Victoria, B.C., circa 1969
Rick “Lou Lem­ming” James sell­ing the rad­i­cal rag Geor­gia Straight, cor­ner of Yates and Dou­glas, Vic­to­ria, B.C., cir­ca 1969

Then in 1976, when fi­nal­ly out on his own, he was liv­ing in Soin­tu­la up off the north end of Van­cou­ver Is­land as a treeplanter when he also land­ed a job as a deck­hand on seine boats out af­ter Fras­er Riv­er salmon in John­stone Straits. He says that back in those days the in­dus­try was ab­solute­ly boom­ing and that they were even grab­bing hip­pie long­hairs right off the dock to crew their boats. As a re­sult, over a pe­ri­od of ten years he got to ex­pe­ri­ence some of the best sock­eye years on the coast.

Then af­ter he met up with his part­ner, au­thor Paula Wild, in Soin­tu­la, she en­cour­aged him to quit talk­ing about want­i­ng to write all the time and just set him­self down in front of his com­put­er and get on with it. Then in 1985, af­ter mov­ing down to Fan­ny Bay on Van­cou­ver Is­land, he soon be­came to­tal­ly ob­sessed with re­search­ing and writ­ing about West Coast mar­itime his­to­ry.  His first ma­jor project was iden­ti­fy­ing the 15 derelict hulks that were sank and used for Co­mox Log­ging & Rail­way company’s boom­ing grounds break­wa­ter in Roys­ton, and re­search­ing the fas­ci­nat­ing his­to­ry of its col­lec­tion of World War II R.C.N. frigates, Cape Horn wind­jam­mers, lum­ber schooners and old steam tugs.

Rick’s work has been pub­lished in nu­mer­ous pe­ri­od­i­cals in­clud­ing The Beaver: Canada’s His­to­ry Mag­a­zine, The Sea Chest: Jour­nal of the Puget Sound Mar­itime His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, Pa­cif­ic Yacht­ing and still con­tin­ues on as a ‘stringer’ for West­ern Mariner mag­a­zine. Many Vic­to­ri­ans will prob­a­bly re­mem­ber his mar­itime his­to­ry tales pub­lished in Vic­to­ria Times Colonist Is­lander mag­a­zine through­out the 1990s. In 2011, a col­lec­tion of a num­ber of his sto­ries that ap­peared in these mag­a­zines as well as the Times Colonist, were pub­lished in Rain­coast Chron­i­cles 21: West Coast Wrecks & Oth­er Mar­itime Tales by Har­bour Pub­lish­ing. He also has served as Paula Wild’s in-house as­sis­tant and helped out with the writ­ing, re­search and pho­tog­ra­phy for her pop­u­lar books Soin­tu­la: Is­land Utopia and One Riv­er Two Cul­tures: A His­to­ry of the Bel­la Coola Val­ley.

He is also the au­thor or co-au­thor of a num­ber of pop­u­lar re­ports pub­lished by the Un­der­wa­ter Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of British Co­lum­bia: Ghost Ships of Roys­ton; His­toric Ship­wrecks of the Cen­tral Coast and His­toric Ship­wrecks of the Sun­shine Coast.  This has proved a par­tic­u­lar­ly re­ward­ing re­la­tion­ship since the UASBC is a vol­un­teer, non-prof­it or­ga­ni­za­tion which came to­geth­er in 1975 and re­mains ded­i­cat­ed to the sci­ence of un­der­wa­ter ar­chae­ol­o­gy and to con­serv­ing, pre­serv­ing and pro­tect­ing the mar­itime her­itage ly­ing be­neath our coastal and in­land wa­ters

The var­i­ous re­ports of the Un­der­wa­ter Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of B.C., can be or­dered by go­ing to the Pub­li­ca­tions link on the Society’s web­page here.


Books by Rick James