On November 8, 2019, three British Columbians and a heritage steam tug were awarded the Maritime Museum of BC’s Beaver Medal. The ceremony took place at Government House in Victoria. The Honourable Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin, the Museum’s Honorary Patron, dropped by briefly to congratulate the Beaver recipients, but laryngitis prevented her from making the formal presentations. She turned over that duty to Beaver Committee Chair Commodore Jan Drent (rtd) and MMBC’s Board Chair Don Prittie.
“These annual awards spotlight extraordinary contributions by British Columbians to our province’s oceans sector,” said Barry Rolston, a Beaver Medal committee member. “Similar to the past seven years when the MMBC began conferring the Beaver Medals, the 2019 winners are a great example of how diversified our BC marine contributors are, and how important our waters, coast and nautical industries are to the well-being of our province.”
The 2019 recipients represent various marine-related organizations.
Yvette Myers has had a 20-year career in the Coast Guard, serving ten of those years at sea. After holding multiple management positions, including that of Vancouver Harbour Master, she most recently held the post of Executive Director of the $1.5 billion federal government’s Oceans Protection Plan—the first person to serve in this role.
Publisher David Rahn has spent his life in the marine industry, starting as a commercial fisherman. Using his hands-on experience on salt water, he transformed himself into a writer and photographer for commercial fishing publications. Subsequently, he launched Western Mariner, The Magazine of the Coast with his wife Anthea Cameron in 2003. Western Mariner now has the largest circulation among commercial marine publications in Canada. One of the magazine’s hallmarks has been its coverage of BC’s maritime heritage by publishing often overlooked or forgotten aspects of coastal history.
Kenneth Harford, using his mechanical engineering expertise, developed a particular focus on reducing noise and vibration in towboats, with his research resulting in new noise control regulations in the industry. After founding a consulting firm and holding many engineering positions, he moved to Robert Allan Ltd., the renowned naval architecture firm, eventually serving as its president.
Steam tug SS Master of Vancouver won the special industrial Beaver award in 2019.She is the last fully operational wooden-hulled, steam-powered tugboat in North America. Built in False Creek in 1922, the famous tug is still using her original First World War Royal Navy surplus steam engine. She’s managed by the SS Master Society. During the ceremony, Robert Allan presented a $15,000 cheque to Barry Martens, the Society’s president. The Society is raising funds for a major refit for the ship’s centennial (ssmaster.org/).
The Beaver Medal is a gold-plated decoration cast from metals salvaged from the wreck of the pioneering SS Beaver—the Hudson’s Bay Company’s first steam-powered ship on the west coast of North America. She operated for 52 years along BC’s coast.