“One miss in 4,788 Trips,” is how Jo Healy described the reliability of the taxi boat Joanola; a 28-foot motor launch that once plied the waters of Cowichan Lake (Caycuse Memories, 2005).
The Joanola was operated by veteran Caycuse resident Bill Hasanen, who purchased it several years prior to a road going in to Caycuse.
The boat and its predecessor, the Blue Flash, were the small logging community’s lifeline to the outside world.
Named after Hasanen’s daughter’s Diana Joan and his niece Iola, for years the Joanola ferried the community’s children from the Caycuse community wharf across the lake to Wardroper (near Youbou).
Once there, they caught the speeder to Youbou before boarding the school bus to Lake Cowichan High School.
At the end of each school day the same trip was made, in reverse.
The younger students attended school in Caycuse/Camp 6.
To paraphrase Healy, in eight years Bill missed the school run once, and that was due to extreme weather – fog, high winds and icy conditions, which would have made the trip imprudent, even by an experienced skipper such as Hasanen.
As chief of transportation, Hasanen’s duties also included taking full responsibility for from five to thirty youngsters twice each day. This meant that, on occasion, he served as a babysitter of sorts.
He was known to have “quelled youthful riots, restrained headlong charges down the slippery wharves, stopped reckless stampedes over the side of the boat, and broken up youthful, bloodthirsty battles.”
Once, he stopped the boat, believing that the clanging he heard was engine trouble, only to find that “two irate youths were slugging it our with their tin lunch buckets.”
It was just part of the job.
In addition to the school runs and “ordinary passenger service,” Hasanen transported many expectant mothers, many accident victims (including loggers) and a variety of illness cases across the eight-mile stretch to Youbou, the first leg of the long and sometimes torturous trip to the nearest hospital in Duncan.
A favorite ‘stork’ story of Hasanens occurred one dark winter night with fog so dense that “the bow of the boat was invisible from the wheel.”
As they made their way through the fog and with the expectant mother relaxing, the “harassed [expectant] father lay full length along the deck warning the skipper of islands, deadheads and log booms as they loomed in ghostly form on the compass guided course.”
It soon became apparent that, for the mother, time was running out, when none to soon the bow of the boat “bumped softly on the Youbou dock.”
After many years of faithful service, Hasanen retired “with mixed feelings.”
On the one hand, it must have been a relief for him, on the other hand, a feeling of loss knowing that it was the end of an exciting era.
The opening of the road gave camp residents a freedom they had not previously had, but one can imagine both parent and child looking back with nostalgia to a time when Hasanen’s Joanola reigned supreme.