Most people who visit the Maritime Heritage Centre in Campbell River want to see the BCP45.
The historic seiner is famous for gracing the back of the Canadian $5 bill from 1972 to 1986, and is arguably the centrepiece of the non-profit activity centre’s North Island marine history collection.
But there’s more to discover for locals and tourists alike, says Operations Manager Katrina Clark.
The ‘Margaret M’
This 14-foot sailboat was featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! for being built by a man who was blind and had one arm.
As the story goes, 10-year-old Arthur Barnes of Victoria was helping his father at work when an explosive detonated. Barnes lost his eyesight and part of his right arm, but that didn’t stop him from building the Margaret M between 1951 and 1952 — a proper sailboat made of red cedar planks on steamed oak ribs.
Ian Andersen of Comox says he remembers his father and other machinists adapting tools for Barnes to use. “Very eerie to be in a room in total darkness listening to a person by himself sawing lumber on a table saw,” Andersen says. “One I will never forget.”
Jagged tooth gigantic
The now-extinct Megalodon was a prehistoric shark with jaws large enough to encompass a small vehicle.
Its name — derived from the Greek words for “jagged,” “tooth” and “gigantic” — suits it well. Scientists believe it had jaws that stretched over 2 metres across, with 276 serrated teeth spanning five rows. It’s also estimated to have grown up to 20 metres in length and weighed 50 tonnes.
Of the few hundred Megalodon teeth that have been excavated around the world, one is housed at the Maritime Heritage Centre. The triangular tooth was donated by Dr. Robert Somerville. Somerville was a Campbell River optometrist known for displaying his collected maritime artifacts in his waiting room and offices before he passed away in 2017.
‘Knot’ your average activity centre
If learning about the Megalodons inspires you to improve your seaworthiness, the centre also features an interactive sailing knot display.
Local sailing enthusiast and long-time volunteer Ruedi Pletscher built the display, which includes informational plaques about hitches, bends, sinets and sailing techniques in between, as well as yards of rope you can use to develop your skills.
“Ruedi keeps adding to it, making it even more amazing,” Clark says. “If you’ve been here before, there are new things to see.”
For more information about the Maritime Heritage Centre, exhibit hours and affordable volunteer-led local history tours, visit maritimeheritagecentre.ca. You can also call the centre at 250-286-3161, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit in person at 621 Island Highway.