Gunderson, Les oral history interviews

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Sather Boatworks
wooden boatbuilding
Fraser River

Les Gunderson is a retired wooden boat builder who worked at Sather Boat Works in Queensborough, and is currently a boat building history instructor for Quadrant Marine Institute on Granville Island. Gunderson’s grandfather immigrated from Norway in 1904 to Idaho, then migrated to British Columbia where he became a commercial fisherman. His grandfather and father were both shipwrights and fishermen. While still in high school (1953/54), Gunderson started working with his father at Sather as a cleanup boy on Saturdays. After he graduated high school he was also working on tugboats. He was asked to decide between the two occupations, and chose to work at Sather. He started as an apprenticeship shipwright at Sather in 1959, and worked there for 37 years. Sather was in competition with the 35 other shipyards located on the Fraser River between Steveston to Mission. At Sather, Gunderson helped build 120 wooden commercial fishing boats. Sather was the last shipyard building wooden boats; the last boat was built in 1989. In 1996 following a heart attack, Gunderson decided to retire.

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Interview with Les Gunderson