The Origins of "Dulwen" - West Wind Hardwood

The Classic Wooden Power Boat That Launched in 1957

dulwen parks canada portland island

Well……what to my wondering eyes did we see…?

Jan and I spent a weekend anchored at Royal Cove – Portland Island and spotted some new Parks signage.  It was an “OMG” moment.  That’s our boat!

The photo of the boat is our boat minus a few visual alterations.  The aft steering station has been enclosed, the swim grid lengthened, and stainless guard rails installed.  We’ve turned a gas-engine runabout into a cozy year-round diesel-engine vessel.  As the fifth owner since 1957, we’ve enjoyed her for 20 years; many interior alterations have been made for comfort and safety. We’ve journeyed as far afield as The Broughton Archipelago several times.

Royal Cove – Portland Island – August 2022

Dulwen was built for Dulcie and Owen Fowler, the 2nd Commodore of the local Capital City Yacht Club in 1957. 

Owen Fowler was an accomplished magician, inventor, musician, entrepreneur and yachtsman.  His love for boats is only one aspect of his love for life.  Fowler owned Tortoise Island, a small outcrop off Portland Island.  In ’57, he had Ed Monk Sr. custom design (and oversee onsite) a 32’ run-a-bout; she was built at Philbrook’s Boatyard when it was still located in Victoria, BC.  Barry Philbrook was still an apprentice when he worked on Dulwen.  In fact, there was quite a furor as the boat ran $1,200 over budget.

Owen’s father started a wool shop in Victoria in 1906.  Owen took over the business in the 50s, experimenting with a better way to wash woollens. He developed, what is still a household name today, WOOLITE® BY ZERO® FINE FABRIC WASH.

Eventually, Owen’s health failed in the ’90s and he had to sell Dulwen.  He was fondly remembered cruising throughout the Pacific Northwest putting on children’s magic shows. It’s said, “an older, crusty customs agent used to push aside other boats saying ‘the Dulwen is coming in’.  A great legacy. Jan and I are thrilled to have guardianship of this piece of local history.  And until our health fades, we will continue to take responsible custodianship and enjoy her out on the water. Interestingly, she started her life on A Dock at Canoe Cove Marina, North Saanich, BC.  And after five owners, she is back on A Dock at Canoe Cove Marina.

Owen Fowler and Friends on Dulwen at Sidney Spit, Sidney Island, British Columbia
Circa 1960. Image I-21102 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum.

1 Comment

  1. Love the entire story………Very, very touching and we consider Dulwen to be a good friend, second only to the present owners….

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