Submitted by Diane Brown:


In 1996 a group of retired tugboat captains formed a group on Vancouver Island that they named ‘ANCIENT MARINER’S’. The initial group were Jack Atter, Don Chatt, Bruce McKay and the Lea brothers, Bob and Dan. They felt that when they retired, the people they dealt with for many years were no longer there and they missed the comradeship. A few mariners began to meet at the Pub in Ladysmith to swap tales, reminisce, relive past glories, socialize and the Ancient Mariner’s Club was ‘under way’.

The Ancient Mariner’s now meet the first Tuesday of every month at the Horseshoe Bay Inn in Chemainus and welcome anyone associated with the sea. There are many who attend from up and down Vancouver Island and also from the lower Mainland. Their beards may be grizzled but when they get together to tell rhymes it’s just like old times. They often pass around photographs of their life on the sea and sometimes the conversation gets loud and spirited as they discuss the finer points of tug boating.

The older mariner’s remember the days when they stayed on the boat as long as there was work, until they got time off. They enjoyed their life on the sea, even though they had to put in many long hours, often with little time off.

As word got around about the Ancient Mariner’s Club, other chapters began to appear in Oliver, Port Kells and last year in Sorrento.

Background information courtesy of Captain Don Chatt, former Vancouver Tug Boat Captain and retired from B. C. Coast Pilots



Posted by Ian:

O.k., o.k., I did the smart thing, I went to the source and e-mailed Colleen and Harry to ask them about our history. This is what Colleen sent :

Hey Ian, OK......regarding the auspicious beginnings (impressed????) of the Ancient Ones, Harry said that it was in Feb. of 2000........no wait, that was the year he had one of the operations......he thinks.....so it must have been in ‘99.....but wasn’t that the year he had the heart attack....WELL what he remembers is that there were chapters in Oliver and Ladysmith.....he had the idea to start something similar in Langley. He got on the phone to a bunch of mariners that just came to mind, they met at Earl’s the first 2 times. First attendance was 16, next was 12....the complaint was that Earl’s was too noisy, too expensive and nobody could smoke. So Harry approached Bob re: the SawMill and it was a match made in Heaven. Harry says ask Bob about the date.

The SawMill has a "Conference Room" that was available for our use, separate from the rest of the Pub which is a nice feature. The walls are covered in photos of old boats and assorted "Nautical Knick Knacks". A very nice touch for an organization such as ours. They also provide a Buffet style lunch at a very reasonable price. I must mention that Bobby Fiorillo's mother was a Stradiotti and he "came up through the ranks" so you can see the connection here with the love of boats and all things Marine.

The Ancient Mariners originated in Ladysmith with a second chapter starting in Oliver. Ours was the third in Port Kells and last year another chapter was added in Sorrento. From this beginning our membership (Port Kells) now has over 300 signed up members with "new faces" arriving at every meeting. If you haven't been out yet, make every effort to attend a meeting near you, to find out about the other "Clubs" simply "click" on "Info" at the top of this page and read down for the one nearest you. If that's not possible, you can always write to this "web site" and become a "Cyber Member", if you are or were once a Mariner ~ you are Welcome at any time.

Just what is an Ancient Mariner and How would I become one?

As our Port Kells Founder, Harry Thiessen so eloquently puts it, "An Ancient Mariner is anyone that has ever been employed in, grew up in or generally been involved in and around the Marine Industry". The usual response, when I ask someone if they are interested in joining our organization is, "Well, I'd love to come out but I am not old enough to be an Ancient anything! Relax, it's just a name and not a qualification. We have members as "old" as 19 (gotta be legal age you know) and as "young" as in their 80's. The one thing that binds us together as a group, is our connection through water and as you all know, "there is nothing quite so fun, as fooling around in boats" (apologies to Mr. Toad). To join our organization, simply arrive at one of the meetings (3rd. Wed. every month) sign the book and "presto" you've become an Ancient Mariner, oh yeah, I almost forgot, "the cost", are you ready for this, $2.00 per visit which goes to support the "Web site" and any left over goes into the "Fund" from which we were able to award three  scholarships last year and are soon to be awarding another in the near future. Any other good causes that arise will be dealt with by a committee and it will be up to them to decide how and what to do as the need arises.

Smooth Sailing and hope to see you at a meeting soon.