In 1943 this tugboat, newly converted from steam to diesel, rested at the Scott and Peden wharf on Victoria’s waterfront. Both the tugboat and the Scott & Peden feed supply firm have a long connection to our history.
The boat had started its life as the JWP named for its builder John W. Pike, who had launched it in 1920 and sold it a year later to Arthur MacFarlane, perhaps one of the most swashbuckling seamen of our recent times.
Arthur MacFarlane had purchased the sturdy vessel along with his brother Fred; both hard driving young fellows, they planned a tow boating business in an era when west coast timber harvesting was in its heyday. Built originally as a steam tug, it ran up and down the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, towing log booms and Davis rafts to sawmill destinations.
Operating the boat on his own later, Arthur would moor it at the Scott & Peden wharf in Victoria for its annual steam boiler inspection. By the time of this photo he had converted its engines to diesel, and renamed it Swiftsure II.
Long a landmark on Store Street, the Scott & Peden feed store had many customers in the Sooke, Otter and Shirley communities. Chicken feed, hog and cattle feed, oats for horses and all manner of groceries were marketed, with weekly feed truck deliveries out into our western areas.
It was in fact, this Company that gained ownership of the Gordon/Vogel farm in the 1930s when the farm couldn’t pay its feed bill. This is the hillside subdivision area above Gordon’s Beach where today’s home owners enjoy a fabulous view of the Strait. Another Peden reference, this one popular with hikers, is the Peden Lakes area in the Sooke River watershed. “Torchy” Peden, for whose family it was named, was a renowned champion cyclist in the 1920s and 1930s. Not long ago, I was one of a Sooke group enjoying lunch at the old feed store, now the Swans Hotel.
Back to our swashbuckling figure, Arthur MacFarlane was the captain, back in the 1930s, who got out the cables of this very tug and offered to pull the old Port Renfrew Hotel off its pilings and into the water. The problem was the tug had gotten into Port long after hours and the pub declined to serve the thirsty crew. If they wouldn’t open up to serve, he’d fire up the engine and pull the cables. Yes, the hotel opened up!!
Elida Peers, HistorianSooke Region Museum