The Merriwake is seen partly submerged in Kootenay Lake. The boat has since been salvaged, but restoring it as a dryland exhibit will be a big and costly effort. Photo submitted

Slocan Valley Historical Society needs help to get its ship together

Fundraising campaign begins to restore Japanese-Canadian fishing boat Merriwake

Submitted

A fundraising campaign is underway to save an historic Japanese Canadian fishing boat that is the last of its kind in Canada.

The Merriwake, a 31-foot gill netter built in 1929, was acquired earlier this year by the Slocan Valley Historical Society after it was alerted to the boat’s existence. It was constructed by master boat builder Isamu Matsumoto, the father of aluminum boat building, whose family was interned in Slocan during World War II.

The boat will never again float. However, under the direction of a conservation plan and the skill of a local shipwright, the Merriwake will be restored to the condition it was in when confiscated by the government in 1941. A large timber-framed structure with a Japanese aesthetic will shelter the vessel and allow her to be displayed for all to view and enjoy at no cost. Interpretive signage will be installed in the centre.

“We are very excited to launch our first online fundraising campaign,” says Joyce Johnson, president of the historical society. “We are using Fundrazr, which makes it very easy for people to visit the campaign, understand what our project is and contribute to it.” The SVHS has a number of sponsorship options with benefits. Johnson points out that all monies donated go directly to the project.

“As the last of her kind in Canada, the Merriwake’s significance is enormous,” says Anitra Winje, vice-president of the SVHS. “She is a symbol of both the important contributions made by Japanese Canadians in BC and the tragic story of their internment. Please help us to preserve and protect this important piece of history.”

For more information on the project or to make a donation, visit fundrazr.com/merriwakestructure2019.

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