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San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 500, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

24 November 2012

❖ Bio of Old Salt Roy "Buster" Pearmain ❖ by Islander Robert R. Pearmain

Deer Harbor Store, Orcas Island, WA. undated.
Photo from the archives of the S. P. H. S.©
"My Uncle Roy, known as Buster, was one of a kind. He was very good to me. Even though he was very close with his money, as were all the Pearmains, he kept me supplied with dimes and quarters for helping him. I helped him pick cherries to make the barrel of wine he made annually to sell at the Deer Harbor dance hall. He sold admittance tickets for the Norton Inn owner, Bill Norton, who also owned the local store.
LeOtis Roy "Buster" Pearmain 27 March 1887-25 May 1950.
Courtesy of nephew Roy Pearmain©
Buster sometimes worked as an engineer on fish boats or the local mailboats that ran through the islands or Alaska cannery tenders. He seemed skilled at carpentry and boat building. During prohibition he did a small amount of whiskey smuggling from Canada. He built a rowboat, painted it lead gray and then used it to row to Sidney Island during the night, returning with sacks full of whiskey. By daylight he would appear to be fishing near Spieden Island, well inside US waters. He had a contact at the local summer resort. The owner sold the booze to the tourists. Buster, no doubt, sold some of it himself.
      Buster didn't seem like a happy man but he enjoyed hunting deer, fishing salmon, and building houses and boats. 
      Buster started fishing in Alaska at an early age. He first began to work for Libby, McNeil, and Libby Salmon Cannery at Kenai, AK. At that time he began the fishing season by going to San Francisco to load a sailing ship with all the gear necessary for catching and canning salmon and for the supplies for the crew who did the work. They then sailed the ship to AK, caught the salmon, and canned them. In the fall of the year they loaded the canned fish onto the sailing ship and sailed it back to San Francisco to unload the cargo. It was nearly a year-long job.
Robert Roy Pearmain 
10 June 1918-13 Jan 2002
Seen here in 1926 on Kanaka Bay fish trap, 
San Juan County, WA.
Author of this bio on Buster.
Courtesy of Roy Pearmain©

     In the first decade of the 20th c., Buster, my father George Pearmain, and my uncle Archie Pearmain acquired a boat named the WANDERER and used her as a tender for buying salmon. They bought fish on the western side of Vancouver Island and sold them to canneries in WA State. When that job was through Archie went to work for Libby's and was skipper of a cannery tender. Buster worked  as an engineer on the boat. One of their cousins, named Billy Marian was the deckhand. While towing a scow loaded with fish in Cook Inlet the boat came apart and sank in three minutes. The men scrambled onto the scow and had to spend the night in wet clothes before they were rescued. Archie caught pneumonia and nearly died. Later he worked as the superintendent of the Kenai cannery for many years."

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