Silver Ann

In Festival Boats 2019

Built in 1969 the “Silver Ann” was one of the last wooden gillnetters to be fabricated in Steveston on the banks of the Fraser River. It was built at the Richmond Boat Builders building located now at Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site.

This wooden gillnetter was commissioned by George Osaka and named the “Silver Anne” to commemorate his silver wedding anniversary. It was built by Sadajiro Asari who built boats on Sea Island. He was one of more than 20 Japanese boat builders in township of Richmond during the early development of the fishing industry. Each fishing cannery had its own boat builders on site.

Gerry Miller, the Britannia Shipyard Manager in 1968 recollects the Japanese boat building process, “They built the boat under a Japanese system before the second world war called, Tanaita Tsukuri, which means shelf planking. The Japanese boat builders plank the boat first and then apply the ribs, where conversely, Canadian boat builders of the time did the opposite process. This method of construction eliminated the need of the steamed strapping required for the installation and bending of the ribs. “Red and yellow cedars from the west coast were used for planking and bulkheads, respectively”.

George Osaka fished with the “Silver Ann” for fifteen years from 1969 to 1984 until his retirement when he sold it to David Hoffman.

In November 2001, the Silver Ann was acquired by the City of Richmond to undergo a complete restoration in the Richmond Boat Builders. During 2005 – 2009 the City and the Britannia Heritage Shipyard Society collaborated to restore the vessel. Shipwrights Colin Duffield and Andrew Guilbride led Society members, volunteers and Britannia staff to work alongside one another in this restoration project. In particular, one volunteer, Clint Osaka, had a close connection to the vessel, as he is the great nephew of George Osaka, the original owner. During the restoration process visitors were encouraged to observe and ask questions to the shipwrights and volunteers.

The Japanese immigrants brought their fishing and boatbuilding skills to Canada and contributed to the establishment of fishing as the primary industry of British Columbia in the early 1900’s. Through their dedication and willingness to adapt to their new found land they have contributed to the west coast fishing and maritime history of British Columbia. “Silver Ann” is one of the legacies of the contribution of one of the pioneering community.