Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected finding the original maker and builder of Wiskun when I started this website. Three weeks ago, I received an email from Louis Charland and this was what he said:
Dear Ellen and Kjartan, just discovered your site and enjoy your stories. Did you know Wiskun was launched June 11, 1977 at Rocky Point in Port Moody? Wiskun actually means "love or friendship" and you're right, it is Indian, I believe it is Coast Salish. Wonderful to know you are enjoying her so much.
I almost fell off my chair when I read it. Could it be? Is he the builder? I immediately emailed back and I was right! Louis Charland built Wiskun alongside his house in Port Moody. I cannot do justice by narrating the story for him, so I am just going to quote his exact words.
Yes I am the original owner and builder and Wiskun. I built her alongside my house in Port Moody. I began building her when I was 29 years old and it took me 7 and a half years before she slipped into the water at Rocky Point. I estimated her weight at 22 tons and the driveway was destroyed in the process of hauling her out. I spent two summers fairing the hull with a special epoxy fairing compound made by Industrial Formulators and as you can appreciate it was well worth the effort but it almost killed me. I eventually reacted to the epoxy and developed a skin rash and also developed a shadow on my lung which eventually cleared. As a matter of fact I have several accidents during the building process that nearly claimed my life including falling off the shed I had built to house construction. My neighbour started court proceedings because the sheer size shaded his garden and stunted his prized tomatoes. My dream (in my youth) was to do exactly what you are doing so this is immensely satisfying and exciting for me to discover you are living my dream. I'm 68 years old but still have held the beauty of it all.
Building a boat is an immense undertaking. Louis must have lots of help, but I can tell you that NOBODY will care AS MUCH as him. I see Kjartan in him when I watched him in the building of MV Bethany. For the whole year, I watched him work, lose a lot of weight, working with people of different culture and standards, deal with the extreme heat, the lack of materials and tools, and the frustrations. He once told me that he remembers a very good advise from a boatbuilder - "Remember, this is not your boat". I didn't know what he meant at that time, but now, I think I do. One cannot put as much emphasis on quality like you do with your own boat. With Louis, that is what it was - he CARED, because it was his baby, his boat.
Louis, our heartfelt gratitude for sharing. We can tell you this, Wiskun is solidly built. She has taken us through very rough seas and with this, I finally realized I could trust her to handle her own.