|ALLEN (OLLIE) CHICKITE|
April 9, 1937 - November 24, 2015
Working on the BCP45 off and on for over 40 years and being the final skipper of the vessel, Allen (Ollie) Chickite was the man who was probably most instrumental in bringing the BCP45 back to Campbell River.
Chickite was 14 when he first signed on as a cook aboard the BCP45, working 11 years for skipper and cousin Mel Assu.
"This boat means a lot to me because of my cousin Mel Assu who gave me a break. When I was a young man I wanted to get on a boat real bad and he took me under his leadership. Every young man that I've taken aboard, they have become quite a character of their own. Two are teachers, one is working for the fire department in Vancouver, a head superintendent, so with Mel's teaching I've carried on his work."
He was on board that day in 1958 when the picture was taken by a magazine photographer that ultimately resulted in the engraving for the bank note (he is on the net table at the stern).
Chickite never dreamed he would one day own the BCP45, but after 18 years gillnetting on other boats, owner BC Packers made him an offer in 1983.
"They approached me and asked if I wanted to buy it," he said. "I said, ‘Sure, but I don't have the money.' They said, ‘Give us a dollar down and make it legal.' No one wanted this ship. Everyone wanted bigger and better boats to fish for the elusive gold we all chase after," he recalled.
For over 70 years, the 15-metre boat weathered horrendous storms (including four 60 mph blows and one that peaked at over 70 mph). For navigation she had only a radiophone, charts and compass - no radar and no depth sounder.
One favourite story Ollie loves to share was when the crew was busy readying the boat for departure for a fishing trip in the 1950's. Skipper Mel Assu asked Ollie to hide their four cases of beer as he was worried that fishermen on neighbouring boats would help themselves.
Ollie went below to investigate and found glass all over the place. He returned to the deck with a red face. "Skipper, I found the beer!" he confessed sheepishly.