The figurehead for Pathfinder, Pochontas (POCO) was carved in 1970 at the Toronto Boat Show by Jack Whitehead, a renowned figurehead carver from the Isle of Wight. [Jack had also carved the figurehead for the replicas for the Nonsuch that did its Great Lakes Tour in Jun 1971. He also carved the figurehead for TS Royalist, several TBI Alumni have done tall ship exchanges on TS Royalist.]
Here is a picture of “Poco, Pathfinder’s figurehead in his prime” [Photo provided by Jurgen Braunohler, TBI Alumnus 1973-1975, taken 1974]. Jurgen remembers seeing Pocohontas being carved at the Boat Show.
Pochohontas (Poco) was lost in 1978 in what TBI alumnus, Geoff Kinney, describes “a most vicious August storm” on Lake Erie.
Miraculously, Poco was found approximately twelve years by Ron and Marg Rowe while walking on a beach near their home in Selkirk. Ron eventually donated it to the Port Dover Harbour Museum, where it remained on display unidentified, with an invitation to the public to speculate about what it might have been.
In 2005 Ernie Natte, a Lake Erie drill rig operator suggested to curator Ian Bell that perhaps it was an old figurehead off a tall ship… maybe the Pathfinder?
Ian called the TBI office asking if we knew of anyone who had lost a figurehead.
A few phone calls later, and with the help of the photo above provided by alumnus Doug Hunter, and Poco’s identity was confirmed.
Poco was returned to TBI in a homecoming ceremony at Toronto Brigantine’s annual Pirates Ball fundraiser at Steamwhistle Brewery in Feb 2006. Jurgen Braunohler was again at this party to celebrate Pocohontas figureheads “homecoming” 35 years after seeing it being carved … and years after it being lost and then found!
The homecoming ceremony included a song composed and performed by Ian Bell. After the party Poco was returned to the Port Dover Harbour Museum for safekeeping.
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