Mini Murals: Time at Sea

I first met Brad Assu on the Quadra Island Ferry; a handsome man, with an easy going gait and a smile; he was easy to get to know. Turns out we both attended private school and this was an easy start to our small chat. But, this was all we had in common. Brad grew up on Quadra Island in Cape Mudge and is son to a long lineage of hereditary chiefs.

His family are fishers and have been for generations, so it isn’t surprising he is a deck hand for BC Ferries. He tells me water is where he feels at home. During 1979 to 1983 Brad was fortunate to work with his father and make enough money to afford highschool at Shawnigan Lake School where he achieved the rank of School Prefect and House Prefect. This is only the tip of the story about Brad. 

I can’t remember how I discovered the innate talent of this humble man. Perhaps I saw him scribble or maybe it was when he gifted me a print of the family eagle crest made in memory of his grandfather. However, I discovered a brilliant, creative artist specializing in western whimsical, and marine drawings, pen and ink, water colour, and carvings. I dug deeper and discovered Brad kept a pictorial journal of his fishing travels at sea on a calendar. I just had to share…


“March 4, 2004, the Mary Isle set to sea from Quathiaski Cove after the winds died down. By March 5th she was anchored out in Comox Harbour. Saturday, the winds were SE 35 knots and the crew was gearing up for fishing, loading the ship with ice and water on the 7th. One of the guys was just learning and smacked into a barge on the 8th. March 9th the Mary Isle was anchored out in Henry Bay in anticipation of the Herring opening March 10th. Gill net fishing opened on the 10th and the crew was still fishing in Departure Bay right next to a BC Ferry until the 14th. 

The Mary Isle headed north past the Sister Islands and docked at home to clean, maintain and rest from the 16th to 19th. March 20 she departed Campbell River heading for Port Hardy to begin Seine fishing. 12:30 AM 40 fathoms of netting fell off the truck of family relations from Port Hardy. The crew spent the wee hours of the morning and the next day correcting the problem. They then sailed north from Port Hardy to Shearwater and began fishing on the 24th. By 7PM that day, Brad’s father had caught 450 tons of herring and it took until 5 AM to pump the fish to other boats. The Mary Isle left Smith Inlet, stopped and got ice in Alert Bay and headed through Hole in the Wall on the 26. March 27 they delivered their catch at 5AM and where home on the rock (Quadra Island) by 7PM.”

If you want to catch glimpses of Brad’s extraordinary talent, watch for hidden sketches in upcoming issues of Synergy Magazine.

Brad Assu’s work are originals (except for the native prints). Viewings can be arranged by contacting Brad on Quadra Island, or bumping into him on the ferry. He is the guy with the smile.