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

© All Rights Reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all website content (except blog comments and quotes by others) copyright Rick James. Educators and others must apply for a license and permission to copy and use content from Rick James or Access Copyright. 2023