1909 Dominion Day Regatta

Dominion Day Regatta at Prince Rupert

By Hoomes K. Freeman

Dominion Day, which is July 1st, gives the patriotic young Canadian the same privilege that the Fourth of July does on the American side, and firecrackers large and small are the order of the day. As the night at Prince Rupert is short, the young Canadian must perforce let off his Roman candles and rockets in the glare of the noonday sun.

The last Dominion Day at Prince Rupert was filled up with all sorts of sports usually enjoyed at such a time. But as the readers of the Pacific Motor Boat are probably most interested in the motor boats I shall stick to the story of the handicap race as viewed from the slowest boat in the fleet. The rules of the handicaps were that any motor boat might enter after running over a mile course and back, from which her time was estimated for the course of twelve miles. And judging from the finish great credit must be given to the committee who did the handicapping.

At eleven o'clock I was given the word to get ready and after some little delay, owing to numbers being misplaced, the command was given for the Naberthong to go. One turn, no explosion; another and the race was on. Against wind and tide we were laboring. Eight minutes and 28 seconds later, the little Bull Pup, with a three h.p. engine, made her getaway. Looking back past the bow of the steamship Lilooet, it seemed impossible for the little fellow to make up the gap. Then came the Swan with an eight h.p. engine, 8 minutes later less just one second. The Alma started just a little more than two minutes later. We rounded the white buoy which marked practically one-sixth of the course about this time, our tall stick and rigging singing in the half gale that was blowing. The Bull Pup and Swan were rapidly closing the gap between. The Jetagnet, with a seven h.p., two-cycle engine, was the next to leave the starting point, but before she reached the first buoy she had to stop to tighten her flywheel, which came loose eight times, effectually putting her out of the race.

At 11:41, when the leading boat was nearly to the second buoy, the Davis got away. Nearly 11 minutes later the G.T.P. launch Shawatlans, with a 20 h.p., 4-cycle engine, began her beautiful run. She was followed by the Rover, with a 30 h.p. Palmer in a little over 2 minutes. The came the Telkwa, with 20 h.p., and the Kayex with a 30. We had traveled half way to the starting buoy when the Kayex got her start at 11:59:07. Just think of that, 49 min. 7 sec. Of a start in a twelve mile race. We had the wind in our favor and made up on our nearer antagonist in the stretch toward the starting buoy. The Alma passed the Swan as we rounded the buoy on the first lap and headed away against wind and tide on the second. The large, swift boats were streaking along at top speed between the second and third buoys.. Again the Bull Pup crept up while the Alma walked past her at the second buoy. Half way between the second and third she passed us at a good mile an hour faster pace than our own, while the Bull Pup crept up on our weather side till at the turn into the home stretch she was neck and neck with us. Five minutes later the Rover put past us with an enormous bone in her teeth, while the Alma plugged gaily away a third of a mile in the lead. Then the Kayex, looking like an enormous spark snarled away for home. The Telkwa, Shawatlans an Davis, almost side by side, were pushing hard in the rear, as the Rover crossed the line just ahead of the Alma. Then the Kayax came grandly in for the cup for the fastest boat over the course. The Bull Pup in the lea of the land had crept past us and then the Swan, while, way back in the distance came the Jetagnet. It was a great race, viewed from the front and rear and the writer had every opportunity to view it from every possible way, as in the finish we were second — that is second to last — and were it not for the trouble on the Jetagnet we should certainly have seen her stern also.

The high wind gave a very great advantage to the deep draft, high powered hulls, as against the broader, lighter built, lighter draft vessels. Otherwise the finish would have been even more exciting, as the three last boats but one were only put out of the race by the pressure of the wind against their upper works.

The people of Port Essington who were over to the races and are great sport-loving people, now propose a handicap race in the heavy tide of the Skeena River, which, according to the old charts reaches a speed of 5 knots. It will be worth seeing and if it is held on Saturday all the cannery boats will probably be there. So will we of Prince Rupert.

(Transcribed from Pacific Motor Boat, August 1909, p. 35.)

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page — LF]