Early Days at the Creek Marina

Audrey Rivers

The Creek Marina & Boatyard appropriately named one of its major walkways

Squamish Indian Band Frank Rivers on Drums‘The Frank Rivers Way’ after its first marina manager. It’s not a stretch to say if it were not for Frank Rivers, The Creek would not be the success that it is today.

In 1967 Frank Rivers, helped the Squamish Nation take over the thirty-three acre marina property from the Harbour Board’s control. Audrey had more than a passing interest in the development of The Creek Marina & Boatyard.

From 1967 to her retirement in 1989 Audrey worked in the marina office as receptionist, bookkeeper and administrator. She had to know the exact dimensions and weight of the boats. In those pre-computer days, all the receipts were written by hand, and Audrey was kept busy before April 1st renewals. “When my mom retired they hired two people to take over her job!” daughter Sheryl Fisher says with a smile. Besides working full time Audrey also raised a houseful of children: five of her own and a number of stepchildren. “I attended St Paul’s residential school. After graduating from secretarial school, I started to work for my father Andy Paull. In those days we had no electricity; we had to fetch water from the only water pipe on the reserve, and my children wore burlap diapers.

“When Frank became the marina manager, wanted to grow the business, the First Nations weren’t allowed to borrow money from a bank. At that time there were only 18 slips in the water. He borrowed $5000 from one of the tenants and used that money to build B dock. When he made a profit from B dock the next year he had the money to build C dock.” Audrey has a veritable boatload of memories from those early days at The Creek.

“At the time, the security guard on night duty would walk to the end of the four docks to punch in at a time clock. Frank wondered how the night guard was able do his rounds so quickly. One night Frank found his shoes at the end of one of the docks. He took a closer look and discovered that the watchman was taking a boat to the end of each dock, punching the clock and not walking down the docks. He had lost his oars and his skiff had wondered away, almost to Second Narrows bridge before he was rescued.  The guard begged Frank not to fire him, and he didn’t, but he made him promise to do his job properly.”

the creek, Audrey RiversAudrey recalled another time when Frank’s big heart was called into action.  “A local youngster, a nine-year-old rascal, liked to play hooky and would hang around the marina. He was casting his hook and line when suddenly he fell into the water. Frank fished him out and was about to take him home when the youngster pleaded with Frank not to tell his mother who would certainly punish him. And so Frank got him into some dry clothes and let him stay in the office until he was ready to go home.”

Frank’s wish had been available to build the marina office just east of the security station. He envisioned a four-storey building to hold a number of offices with native businesses.  He also wanted to see the rest of the docks upgraded to the level of A dock. He had big dreams for the Creek Marina and Boatyard. Sadly, Frank never got to see these changes. He died in 1977 from a rare form of spinal cancer.

Tragedy struck again when Audrey’s stepdaughter Linda Rivers, who worked as the marina receptionist for many years, died suddenly at the age of 52 of an aneurysm. Audrey gently touches the beautiful silver pendant that once belonged to Linda and that Audrey has worn since her death.

Today Audrey still takes an avid interest in the activities of the marina, a short walk from her cozy home. Intrepid mariners often call upon her to give a traditional native blessing before embarking on their journey. Her own journey has taken her from the time long ago when First Nations could neither vote nor obtain a bank loan to a more acceptable modern day where she sees her daughter Sheryl taking an active role in politics, and where the Squamish Nation is the proud owner and manager of the world class The Creek Marina & Boatyard.