Tofino 1982 – Wandering Mind
A couple of months ago I posted a shot of Tofino harbour that I took in 1982 and only recently scanned and brought to digital life. These shots are from that same roll of film. I was going to subtitle this post Wanda, but my mind wandered while my fingers were still attached to the keyboard. All over 1982 and fieldwork on the coast.
I could find nothing on the web about the fishing boat Wanda seen in both these photos. I don’t know if that means she is no longer, or just low profile or renamed.
[Edit: More than a year after posting this, I got the following comment on my About page: “The Wanda was sitting as a piece of landscaping just off the highway in Sidney BC last time I saw her. Ralph Tieleman Tofino BC”. Thanks Ralph! This is pretty ironic since I grew up in the Sidney area and have driven past the Wanda hundreds of times at the corner of Beacon Avenue and the Pat Bay Highway. Sometime more than 5 years ago the Wanda was removed from that location. I can’t imagine to a good fate either. I found a good picture of her in position as an ornamental reminder of the fishing history of the area – ironically it is taken by someone I went to school with. This is a great example of seeing and yet not seeing all at once. Perhaps if my world centred on fishing boats I would have made the connection at once.]
I can’t make out well enough who the person is on the dock in the lower picture but I expect he was one of my crew on a project I was running on Meares Island (which is in the distance behind the dock in the picture below). Field work ran from late August to December 22nd. We were probably in town for groceries, gas, phone calls, mail and beer. Likely our inflatable boats are tied up where he is squatting.
The only fly in this speculative ointment is that he is not wearing field clothes, and I don’t recall town clothes being part of our repertoire unless we were in for a few days. And (takes deep breath as this is going on a wee bit) if we were in town for a few days that would be because a winter storm was blowing through, work was nearly impossible and thus it was time for a motel, bath, beer, bought cooked food, beer and then more beer. I don’t see a winter storm in these photos. Often beer was had in the dark because the electricity would go out, a tree taking the line down somewhere between Tofino, Ucluelet and/or Port Alberni. The bar (there was only one) would put out Coleman lanterns and keep right on serving – bottled beer only till the power came back. Except that took days sometimes. The toilets were pitch-black, so we would go outside to pee on the wall of the hotel by starlight, or if lucky, moonlight. Once or twice we were interrupted by the ironic spotlight of a Mountie police car. The cops only ever sat in their car and watched, never even spoke to us. I think they must have had the same experience and sympathised about the dangers of aiming for a urinal in complete darkness.
Anyway, those were the days, not necessarily better than now, but different.
- Phone booths (with doors), land lines (only) and snail mail (only).
- Small trollers and a decent living from fishing, free wharfage for short stays.
- Cavernous capacity for beer.
- Hand-held magnetic compasses, paper charts, tape and chain mapping on mylar or ‘waterproof’ paper.
- Woolen shirts, woolen underwear, rubber coated rain-gear.
- Hand-rolled cigarettes, smoked in the bars, in the restaurants, motels, cars, houses and, for all I would know, in the churches.
- Wax paper packaging inside paper boxes. White wonder bread. Canned everything you might want. Fresh nothing except fish and crab.
- Spam in cans – the processed meat kind, not the processed words, believe it or not there was no internet (did you hear my cane scrape across the floor when I said that?).
- Camping while in the field (well, squatting actually but we had to fix the roof and put in a new wood stove), working 15 long days on and 3 days off at straight time (because the storms came every 15 days or so and lasted about 3 and the budget would not stretch to overtime).
- Beer in glass bottles – identical brown stubbies only for all brands. Molson Canadian, Labatts Blue, Carling O’Keefe, Lucky, Uncle Ben’s (yuck, drunk only and reluctantly during a brewery strike), Heidelberg, Labatts 50, Kronenbrau, Carling Black Label. Industrial brews only. Purchased only in government liquor stores.
- Terry-towel covered bar tables. Round ones. Soaked. Beer by the glass only, not pints. Illegal to stand or walk with a beer in a bar (call the waitress if you want to move to another table with your beer). No craft brews here either. Stale beer and cigarette smoke smells, all bars smell the same. Not a bad smell at 10:30pm after a few. Wretchedly awful smell at 10:30am.
- CPM operating system on a Kaypro computer with no hard drive, no function keys, no number pad, 64K of RAM, and two double-sided double-density floppy drives (it was a hot machine), and a 5? inch monitor, green numbers and letters on black.
- Mice in the cupboards, but not usually on desks. No such thing as a keyboard tray.
- Gooey was not spelled GUI and meant the way your feet were after 4 months in rubber boots with ‘soakers’ most days getting on and off beaches.
- Cameras with film in them, solid ones that still work after you drop them, months between shooting and seeing the prints, pale blue Pelican cases (which float when the tide came in – did you know that in the old days the tide came in, and went out. Every day?), hand-held light metres, developing tanks, timers, enlargers and chemicals.
- Film with visible grain.
OK, so that list talked me into pulling two more images off this roll of film. This is some of the crew (Buddy, Boris and Pat from left to right) in our ‘borrowed’ cabin, the remnants of fresh crab ‘borrowed’ (in dense fog for secrecy) from a crab pot that was ignored by its hard-drinking owner (we would leave him a bottle of the hard stuff in a crab pot from time to time), cooked on a coleman stove, beer in stubbies, Jamieson Irish Whisky served in teacups, by the light of a Coleman lantern, and rain washed windows. Hard work. Hard play.
Pentax Spotmatic, no surviving exposure or lens information (SMC Takumar, probably a 50 or 55mm), Ilford Pan-F, scanned from the negative at 600dpi.