Bill Burnett is a retired Fraser River pilot, whose main duties were to ensure that ships were kept from running around. The official river pilot station he worked at was called Sand Hedge, a lighthouse at the mouth of the Fraser River. River pilots help navigate a ship to and from the dock from a point c. 3 miles beyond the lighthouse. At 8 years old, Burnett knew he wanted to be a pilot after meeting a Dungeness pilot at a family wedding. (Dungeness is a port near Dover, England.) Burnett received his pilot training in France and Poland. In 1969, while in the process of getting his masters ticket (certification as a captain), he became enamored with the idea of working on tugs in British Columbia. During this time he was working on a Shell Canada tanker (which never went to Canada) sailing from the east coast to Venezuela. Since Burnett was employed by Shell he had Canadian employment and immigrated to Canada. Once on the west coast he first worked for Northland Navigation delivering groceries, then Vancouver Tugs (which became Seaspan) until things “went sour” in 1971 and he was cut from his job.
Interview with Bill Burnett
Copyright is held by the author(s) and participants.
You are free to copy, distribute and transmit this work under the following conditions: You must credit the (Re)Claiming the New Westminster Waterfront research partnership, Simon Fraser University, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada.
Member of collection