Mike Hoyer is a retired educator from Prince George who moved to New Westminster in 2004. He is an active citizen of New Westminster, serving as an interpretive program and walking tour volunteer at the Fraser River Discovery Centre, and as a graffiti control volunteer for the New Westminster’s Police Department. He also volunteers at events in the city and participates in the Block Watch program in the Quayside neighbourhood. He has an avid interest the history of the Fraser River and New Westminster. Throughout the interview Hoyer references the history of the Fraser River especially with regard to the environment and to overfishing.
The interview was conducted as part of the Oral History Practicum course, History 461, at Simon Fraser University.
Helen Hughan is a resident of New Westminster who worked as a secretary for Mercer Shipyards in New Westminster from 1944 to 1949. Her parents immigrated to New Westminster from Scotland in 1929 when she was three years old. She lived on the corner of Mowat St. and 3rd Avenue, and her father worked at Mohawk Lumber Company. She went to F.W. Howie Elementary School and Trapp Tech High School. In 1944, when she was senior in high school, she left school early because there was a demand for secretaries. During that time businesses would go to high schools to look for secretaries. Her major duties as a secretary were recording timesheets from the employees, typing letters, ordering supplies, and interacting with office visitors. Starting out at 18 years old, she believes that working at Mercers opened up to a lot of new things and experiences that she was never exposed to, living a sheltered life as an only child. Hughan reports that she was very happy working at Mercers because her job was challenging and exciting. She married in 1949 and moved to Burnaby, where her children were raised, and moving back to New Westminster in 1971. Prior to her secretary position, in high school she worked at Copp’s Shoe Store on Columbia St. on Saturdays. Throughout the interview she tells stories about the Mercers (father Ed, and sons Gordon, and Art (Arthur)) who she worked with, and speaks enthusiastically about her experience working for them.
Ron Husberg grew up in Surrey, and attended Queen Elizabeth High School. At the age of 16, he was still in school, but had his first shift unloading railcarsat Pacific Coast Terminals. As his high school had burnt down that year (1967), he had class only in the mornings, and was able to take afternoon shifts. He got his “number” at 16, and remained a longshoreman for the rest of his working life. Companies that he mentions having worked at include Searles Elevator in Surrey, Fraser Mills, Pacific Coast Terminals, Brackman & Ker, Overseas Transport and the rice mill.
Ken Isomura is a retired logger and millworker who was active in the New Westminster community and in the IWA. He was raised in Revelstoke as a result of his family’s internment during World War II. After graduating high school, he worked in the woods for 8 or 9 years, but then made the decision to move to the Lower Mainland in 1969, and he ended up getting a job at a Macmillan Bloedel mill in Queensborough. He worked there until the mill closed in 1988. The major themes of this interview are the causes of the decline in forestry industry and millwork along the Fraser River, and its effects of the region’s economy and culture.The interview was conducted in conjunction with History 451: Oral History Practicum taught at Simon Fraser University in Spring 2014
Bernie Jebson started working on the waterfront June 1st, 1981. He worked on the waterfront as a high school student, and graduated from BCIT. He talks at length about the equipment he has worked with on the job, with a significant portion of the interview spent viewing photos from the job with the interview. He worked with his father on the job, and currently works with his own son. He feels one of the most significant changes to the waterfront is the increased regulation by Environment Canada.
Chris Jensen is a Port Captain for Seaspan and has been with the company since 1978. He was introduced to the waterfront at an early age because his father was also a tugboat captain for Seaspan. Jensen started off as a deckhand when he finished high school and received his tugboat captain’s ticket in the early 1990s. Initially he worked as a riverboat captain based out of New Westminster and since then he has worked around the Port Kells, Langley, Surrey, and Vancouver areas. Today, as Port Captain for Seaspan he is responsible for tugboat logistics for the company.
Series of interviews with retired longshoreman Dean Johnson, conducted between 18 July 2013 and 6 March 2015
Johnson was born and raised in New Westminster. He got his first longshoring work in Prince Rupert at age 16, but then when he was 17 he starting longshoring in New Westminster in 1961. In 1975 he started a steady job at Westshore. In this interview he talks about the day-to-day routine of a longshoreman, the disputes and camaraderie amongst longshoremen, taking breaks at work, encounters between longshoremen and sailors, Westshore terminals, wolfing, walkouts, literacy, the “River Rats,” and pensions.
Michael Johnson is a retired commercial fisherman who has lived in Burnaby and New Westminster his whole life, and had his boat tied up in the Annieville Channel in North Delta. His father was also a fisherman, and Johnson got his introduction to the occupation through his father. At the age of 19, he got his own boat, and called it “The Rocky Way” after the popular song “Rocky Mountain Way” by Joe Walsh. He worked as a commercial fisherman for 25 years, and stopped when the federal government offered him a buyout in the late 1990s. For most of the year, Johnson would fish for salmon in Northern British Columbia (BC) and the average salmon at the time was six pounds.
Faith Johnson is a longshoreman and the daughter-in-law of Dean Johnson (who also worked as a longshoreman in New Westminster and eventually at Westshore before he retired) and wife of Shane Johnson, also a longshoreman.
Shane Johnson is a longshoreman and the son of Dean Johnson (who also worked as a longshoreman in New Westminster and eventually at Westshore before he retired) and husband of Faith Johnson, also a longshoreman. Shane worked at Fraser Surrey Docks, Annacis Auto Terminals, and Fraser Wharves. Though he does not state in this interview where his current work location is, the interview with his wife Faith on October 21, 2014 revealed that he works at “the coal port” (Westshore Terminals). In this interview, Shane talks about types of work on the waterfront, the culture of Local 502, and how work has changed since 1987. On several occasions he identifies Deltaport as having brought about a lot of systemic change to longshoring, including bringing in new technologies and also an increase in the number of women employed in longshoring.