Readers Corner: ‘Soaker’ follows the 1964 provincial champion Rainmakers

Saanich author blends coming-of-age story with Rainmakers

Soaker is an historical fiction that takes place during the spring and summer of 1964.

Written by author Bob Warren, who’s lived in Saanich for 47 years. Born and raised in Prince Rupert, Warren’s experience in the fishing industry, including at the Canadian Fishing Company plant, comes through in Soaker. Later, Warren, a charter SFU grad, took his first teaching assignment for four years in Port Edward, where he got to learn more of the north coast and fishing in the area where “Soaker’ takes place.

The book is centred on Wayne, an unemployed 19-year-old, who is not finding success in the rough east end of Vancouver during the notorious era of the Park gangs in the 1960s. When his uncle’s deckhand is injured in the All Native Basketball tournament in Prince Rupert, Wayne is offered a job on the halibut boat fishing out of Rupert on the north coast.

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The basketball aspect of Soaker is based on the story of the Rainmakers and follows actual events such as the Rainmakers winning the provincials. The skippers reference to the reading of the Riot Act, by Mayor Peter Lester in 1958, is factual. (It was only the second time in Canadian history the Act was read.)

Wayne’s uncle not only teaches him about halibut fishing and the north coast, but the uncle, who’s a history buff as well, is an avid basketball fan. That brings in the Rainmakers local all-native team, which, against all odds, wins the 1964 provincial championships.

Good fishing makes for a lucrative summer, and whale sightings, storms at sea, and a summer romance all add to the exciting memorable season. Unexpected storms show how dangerous the fishing industry can be, and how tragic outcomes occur and remind us that life’s lessons can be tough.

Other books written by the author include George Jay School 1909 (a history of elementary public school education in Victoria), published in 1998 and, Joyful Journey:Reflections on a Teaching Career, published in 2014.

 

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