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Toronto, Winter / Spring 1967

November 7, 2014

Cleaning out (digitizing) old pictures I came across this picture.

I was a new immigrant to Canada, barely spoke english. Somehow I hooked up with a group of people in Toronto. One of them was Ratch. This guys took it on to teach me proper english and good pronounciation.

After finding this picture I googled for Ratch and to my dismay I found this site.

RIP old friend.


Aboard the Seguin

October 18, 2014

Ratch was the first captain of the restored Muskoka steamship.

On our wedding anniversary, we decided on a cruise under his command.

On boarding the ship Ratch warmly greeted us and swept us up to the wheelhouse where he had placed two chairs for a commanding view, and then produced a wondrous boquet of gladiolas for us.  What a gift!  What a sweet heart.  Bless you Ratch.

Your old buddies Jean and Bruce

One heart.  One love.

August 31, 2014

I just dropped by to say that SENECA has just celebrated her 109th birthday, and has been beautifully restored to perfect shape by a syndicate of wealthy sports in Chester, Nova Scotia. The Triumph Legend is safe with her enthusiast new owner Brian Corfield. Frank Nicol has told me the true story of the sinking of the Athenia and how a friend of his realized the Germans were going to lose World War Two when he saw how they exulted in the capture of the bully beef aboard his British freighter, when it was stopped and scuttled by the GRAF SPEE in 1939 on its voyage from Argentina to London.

Meanwhile, we'll see you soon! Any brandy there? 

Struggling actors

September 13, 2013

I met Ratch in1966 when we were both aspiring 21 year old actors working as waiters at the Sherwood Forest Inn in downtown Toronto.
Our respective agents got us these jobs, along with other starving actors & actresses.
A ''themed'' restaurant, we had to wear green tights & brown tunics, like the Robin Hood's merry men.No one was merrier than Ratch - I remember he was always coming up with ideas for TV commercials, scripts & movie pitches during our breaks.
I remember seeing him on "Seeing Things " in the 80s wtth Louis Del Grande who I acted with in the early 70s in To.
Just googled Ratch today (Sept.13,2013) to see what he's been up to the past 40+ years.
Sad to hear of his death, but enervated by his life story.
Someone who shared a story said : once you met Ratch, you'd never forget him - I can affirm that.

A Story about a Friend 13 August 2013

August 29, 2013

This story comes from Gerry Lavallee, an old BC Ferries shipmate of Ratch.  Gerry has asked me to share it with Ratch's friends and family.  Here goes . . .


     I have been a builder of models most of my life.  Many plastic representations have been assembled.  Most of them have been ships and Diesel locomotives.  Retired and at the age of 67 I still enjoy gluing plastic parts together.  Recently I have become interested in building HO scale ships and wander EBay looking for suitable candidates for modification.  I bought two models of a New York Harbour firefighting tug.  The first is half completed as a small chemical tanker and the second is going to be a deep sea salvage tug.  Part of the fun of building models is the research one can do about the intended vessel.  When was she built; what did she do and how did she do it.  Another part of the fun is imagining an environment for your creation and naming the ship.  Googling thorough pictures of salvage tugs I discovered that the model’s hull is similar to the hull of the SS Sudbury, a famous British Columbia deep sea tug.  This BC vessel had an Ontario name because of superstition.  During WW 2 this ship had been a HMCS corvette named the Sudbury.  Name changing is considered bad luck for ships.

     Ok, I thought, I can do that.  Three months ago I had completed the HMCS Napanee.  I have lots of choices; Nanaimo, Nipigon, Moose Jaw, Vernon, etc.  None seemed right somehow.  Names wandered in and out of my brain for a couple of days.  The thought then came that I would name the tug after a person.  Two earlier tugs had been named after my two brothers and a fish boat after a sister (Whatever you may think I love Bernadette dearly).  I’ll name this ship after someone I worked with; a deckhand, captain or a mate.  No name jumped out.

     I am usually a positive person, but, at breakfast this morning I started feeling sad about something.  Nothing specific, just a general melancholia.  Later in the day it came to me that I was remembering Ratch Wallace.  During his time as captain on BC Ferry’s I was one of his mates.  Whenever I saw him come onboard in uniform I knew that we were going to have a good day, regardless of what happened during the shift.  I really enjoyed working with him and was saddened to hear of his passing two years ago.  I Google imaged him and sat looking at his bumpy, happy face; got all emotional.  Then, suddenly, it came to me.  The salvage tug was to be named the R Wallace.  I laughed because the name really felt proper and the decision had been made.

     My mind went back to the construction of MV Chemtrader, the tanker.  I was in the middle of building two lifeboat davits, piece by piece.  What a chore.  Indeed, most of the tanker was proving to be a challenge as I was designing and scratch building from the main deck up.  Sawing, filing, sandpapering and refitting; everything was finicky.  What I was missing were two ladders which would allow the deck crew access to the boats so they could be launched.  The tops of the boats were eight feet above the deck.  Ladders were needed and, even though I had been searching through cardboard boxes of plastic pieces, I could not find anything suitable.  I was having glum thoughts about constructing ladders piece by piece.

     I spoke out, “OK, you son of a bitch, I’ll name the tug after you, now help me find some ladders”.  I moved a model box and there, and there, underneath was a sprue which had connected to it two ladders, both long enough to suit the davits.  Surprised, I laughed more.  I didn’t believe it.  After a coat of white paint the ladders were glued to the backs of the davits just right.

     I have no evidence that Ratch wanted his name on a model boat or helped out in building another, but, it is what I felt and it is worth a story.  A Ratch story.

My Captain

November 7, 2012


I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

By John Masefield (1878-1967).

I miss you Ratch!!

A Tribute to Captain Ratch Wallace (Read at the Victoria Memorial)

December 22, 2011

A Tribute to Captain Ratch Wallace

I want to express my heartfelt condolences to Ratch’s family Lissa, Mercedes and Kate. Ratch will also be sorely missed by all his friends. 

Captain Ratch brightened our days at BC Ferries for nearly 10 years. He started as Senior Master, Inter-Island Services in January 2000, the majority of time working as Senior Master on the Howe Sound Queen servicing the Crofton – Vesuvius route on Salt Spring Island.  In September 2003, Captain Ratch was promoted to Marine Superintendent of our Inter-Island Services South and was responsible for the operation of our Southern Gulf Islands ships.

Ratch was very active in seeking charters for vessels to be used in films and a number of BC Ferries vessels had brief starring roles. Shortly after, he was Acting Vice President for Inter- Island and Northern Services. In February 2007, Ratch was designated Senior Master, Special Projects where he worked on the Kuper and Minimum Safe Manning projects.

Ratch’s cinematographic skills came to the fore in producing an excellent short documentary of the conversion of the John Atlantic Burr into the Kuper.

Ratch’s excellent record keeping helped keep the long process to gain minimum safe manning documentation for the fleet on track.

In April 2009, Ratch returned to the fleet as Senior Master and retired from BC Ferries at the end of that year. 

Ratch was an eternal optimist --- always looking for the positive in a person or a situation. His light-hearted attitude made him a pleasure to be around. Ratch was always keen to get involved in new initiatives and did whatever it took to make a project successful. 

A story I remember….. Ratch understood a very junior casual Mate was not getting enough work so he conceived the need for a ‘Head Inspector’ and detailed this Mate to go and inspect and report on every washroom on every vessel and terminal within the Inter Island Services South. You might think this an odd job – but Ratch knew that not one person would grieve this work and so a very junior casual was able to survive until more regular work came along. 

Ratch took a genuine interest in his shipmates and colleagues ashore. He willingly gave people his time --- one of our most precious gifts.  

Ratch will be missed by all those he touched. He was a good friend and a solid shipmate.  

Ratch, we wish you fair winds and following seas… 


Captain Jamie Marshall
Vice President, Fleet Operations & Training
BC Ferries

Ratch All Around Guy

December 5, 2011

I met Ratch at the Pilot in the sixties. We were instant friends.Not really buddies but shared our friends and projects and ideas. He had the greatest welcoming smile. we seemed to cross paths alot I was at Queen City yacht club he was at RCYC as we crossed sailboats often. Meeting him often on the toronto island ferry as he did his sea time to get his mates and Captains papers. I read his script on the Edmund Fitzgerald and watch him put in so many frustrating years trying to produce it.Been there done that got the tshirt etc. Many beers at the 22 in the company of everybody. I am not sure any of us DO IT OUR WAY but at least we did it. So Long skipper it was good to know you.

My Dad...(read at the Toronto and Victoria Memorials)

November 27, 2011


My Dad was an unconventional father.

In my early teens, he told me he had just 3 rules for me to live by.

Rule #1 – Do not get pregnant.

Rule #2 – Do not smuggle drugs across the border

Rule #3 – Do not get on a motorcycle with someone who has been drinking

I thought these were pretty good rules and I could accommodate. 

Then, in my late teens, when I told Dad that I wanted to go sky diving, he looked at me and said “That’s rule #4.”


I have so many good memories of Dad and he’s implanted so many of his mannerisms and behaviours into my psyche.

When I was about 10, he took me on a road trip to the States on his Jawa Motorcycle. I loved riding with him.  It felt natural and safe. Anyway, we were about to take a dip in a cold lake and he showed  me the art of shocking your body with the water before you dove in (a splash of cold water on the nape of your neck, and under each arm pit).  I still use that tactic to this day.  It’s weird but it works!

Always sit house right in the movie theatre.  Movie directors direct from this angle so that’s where you get the best point of view.  He also uses this tactic in stage plays although in my professional opinion, unnecessary.  I use this tip at the movies always.

Oh and afternoon naps…I love them too!

Embarrassing/Annoying Dad moments:

When he pulls out the 2 Litre bottle of hand lotion from his briefcase at the pub’s dinner table or anywhere else for that matter. 

When he talks too loud.  His whisper is NOT a whisper, it’s a stage aside so the audience  can hear you.  Ugh! 

He was always late! Always!

He always wanted me to go sailing with him.  Didn’t he know the thought of being trapped on a boat with no escape was not something that appealed me at all?!  (apologies to all of you mariners here today…take no offense). I inherited a sailor’s mouth, not love of the open sea. 

Favourite moments:

Finding out I had a beautiful sister, Mercedes. More than my best friend.  I’m so very grateful to have her in my life. 

Grade 8 “Graduation”. I was not a popular girl, but when Dad came to my grad in uniform, looking trim and all blonde curls bouncing around, and my mom went to take my picture, and I’m telling you that every single girl in my class, jumped into that picture and I got to sit on his lap.  Popular for one night!

My old boyfriend George was a deckhand on the Canadian Empress and we broke up over the phone while she was docked at Trois Rivieres.  Well, George missed the boat leaving the dock at 7:30am.  He had no money and no way to catch up to the ship even by cab.  I had to call Dad on his cell. And so that George wouldn’t get into trouble, Dad turned the boat around to pick him up, making him very late for his next docking.  Bob Clarke only found out about this a few days ago. He laughed, sort of .

Since I was a child, he always, always sent me a postcard from wherever he was. 

Watching Barney Miller reruns.

Dad took me to my first restricted movie, “48 Hours” with Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy.  I wasn’t to tell my mom as I was only 14, but when the lights came up, she was there and had seen it too.  I don’t know if he got into trouble for that one.

He stayed in Ontario after I left to live in Victoria with Lissa and Mercedes.  He stayed because Great Aunt Frances, who was in a home in St. Catherines, would have been alone.  He visited her often and it wasn’t until she died that he made the trek west to be closer to his daughters and Lissa.

He let me smoke cigarettes without a single negative word.  Even handing me an ashtray. Bought me my first Zippo.

When I worked at the Sudbury Theatre Centre, he would come up in the dead of winter to see me.  He came to Winnipeg, also in winter to see me, when I would tour a show from Victoria.  He would meet my friends, we would all hang out.  He loved the theatre scene.  He was cool.  You know.

Going for beer at Wiley’s, then helped to get me a job at Betty’s.  Then meeting up for drinks with his friends and mine at Betty’s. 

We talked about what I should do for a career.  I was accepted at Ryerson for Nursing, Social Work and Technical Production of Theatre.  He nudged me toward the fun life.  I considered a career in the movies but he talked me out of it stating that I would find theatre families across the country.  And that the movie industry was risky and fickle and he didn’t want me to become a coke addict.  Seriously!..that’s what he said. So I had a great career in theatre as a Stage Manager. Thanks Dad!

Spanish Chicken in a crockpot…yum!

 He tried to get my eldest Jackson engaged in different things and supported him in his endeavours.  With sailing lessons, and guitar encouragement.  Dad was thrilled for me when I met Lance (Sir Lancelot – my Prince) and had a few more babies.  He reminded me that I always said I wanted a big family.  He was happy for me.

I loved that he didn’t pretend to know or understand more than what he knew or understood.  In the midst of tearing our house apart for a renovation, and we were looking at the studs and remnants of once was walls, Dad casually walked in, looked around and said “I have no idea what I’m looking at.  Good luck to you”.  He wasn’t macho…he was honest.  Love that.

Did you know that he loved getting presents?  That he loved wrapping presents in his own creative way.  What he could do with ribbon…odd and inspiring!

Earlier this year, he returned to the stage as the Head Waiter in Pacific Opera Victoria’s production of La Boehme.  No - he didn’t sing a word.  He did a great job.  Loved the gig. Was concerned about the opera singers and their placement of the props he had to deal with (welcome to the oprera!). But didn’t complain to anyone, he was just concerned that he looked like a professional waiter and not a bumbling fool.  And during bows, although he was at the very back, behind the chorus, the person least seen, I could see him. I had box seats.  He was beaming!  He was so proud to be up on stage with such talented people. To be back in the theatre.

There are so many great moments with Dad. I have shared but a few.  He treated me as an adult even when I was a child.  He respected me, and my opinions.  I could tell him anything and I knew he wouldn’t judge me.  That’s priceless.

It seems impossible that he’s gone and that my kids won’t get the same opportunity, as I had, to experience the entity of Ratch. 

Save a cold one for me Dad.    

Love Always, Katexo

More from Rivercrest Road

November 24, 2011

As one of the Rivercrest Road gang of the '40s into the '60s, I happily remember Ratch as a true original, an unconventional peg that could not/would not be hammered into a square hole. Even at age 4, he marched to a different drum. (In fact, I think he was his own drummer.)

I happily recall bicycle rides, hockey, football and baseball games (with a smashing memory of him practise-swinging a bat through our living room window) on the street or at Lessard Park, movie matinees at the Odeon Humber, day ski trips with our friends to Orangeville, a Christmas ski week with us at Mont-Tremblant, about 1960, and stays at our cottage on Lake Simcoe.

Incidentally, I modestly take credit for bestowing the nickname Ratch: After a concert in Massey Hall about 1959, when he'd shortened Ritchie to Ritch, the jazz trumpeter Jonah Jones autographed an LP cover for him with the salutation 'To Ritch'. But Jonah's 'i' looked more like an 'a'. I remarked on it, and facetiously called him Ratch. He dug it, and it stuck. His mother never forgave me.

Yes, he was one of a kind right from the start.  Sail on, Ratch. Your old Rivercrest friends remember you with deep affection. 


Moonlighting- written about Ratch by Murray McLauchlan

November 23, 2011

“MOONLIGHTING” by Murray McLauchlan

(written about Ratch in 1984)


There's you standing on the swing bridge

I'm the captain on the ship below

But at six o'clock I'll get a taxi on the dock

And be an actor in a T.V. show

Well the crew don't know

And you don't know

And I don't think you should

You'd be scared to be standing there

And the crew'd jump ship for good.


Moonlightin' that's the thing for me

Moonlightin' don't allow no sleep

Well there's no business like show business

And sailin' on the roving sea.


Maybe I'm partly crazy

Maybe I'm partly cat

I figure if one life is good

More lives must be better than that

I'm the captain of a ship

I can write a script

I'm an actor when the work comes

And any actor in Canada

Ought to have more jobs than one.


Moonlightin' that's the thing for me

Moonlightin' don't allow no sleep

Well there's no business like show business

And sailin' on the roving sea.


Sometimes I wonder what's comin'

I wonder what's down the line

Maybe I'll be rich and famous

But it likely wouldn't change my mind

I do love to drive those freighters

And I do love those bright lights

Hope the next show ain't no turkey

And I stay off the rocks tonight


Moonlightin' that's the thing for me

Moonlightin' don't allow no sleep

Well there's no business like show business

And sailin' on the roving sea.

November 12, 2011

Suddenly the phone rang!


"Hi it's Ratch. Do you know Titta Griffin?"

"Yeah? Kinda. I know her sister Nonnie better."

"Remember that jacket you were wearing at that birthday party last year?'

"Yeah, Kinda".

"I've gotta date with Titta for dinner tonight and can I borrow it? I'll be right over."

And so he arrived and I managed to jam Ratch into my precious new, jacket.

And that was Ratch. A guy you'd lend your latest prized jacket to.

I would hire him as our Marine Advisor, run into him in Wiley's a few years later,

hire him again as our Marine Advisor, got out of Toronto, and ran into Ratch in

Victoria, where, of course, I hired him as our Marine Advisor.

It was always a wonderful pleasure to be around Ratch and I did that whenever


Ratch always brought that big shit-eating grin and a bottle.

He was not only Canada's only Movie Star, but a 'Star' in all things he did.

And, oh, I miss him so.

Dan Howard,




Capt Wallace

November 7, 2011

       I first met Ratch at Owen Sound in the late 70's, first impressiom? "energy and enthusiasm" , but what a man! I heard the word "Hollywood" more than once, usually from those uncomfortable with  his "presence". I liked him immediately! Loud, yes, but sailors, I have been told, like actors, have to be heard above the wind and all of the other distractions, he did it perfectly!

Typically, in the marine industry, courses diverge, but not friendships. When we bumped into each other, time vanished, and we continued as if it was just yesterday that we spoke last.Time flies unfettered in the marine industry.      

Suddenly, it is the mid 1990's,and I am a ship's pilot on Lake Ontario, Ratch appears as the very active ship's agent for Robert Reford, quarterbacking operations for Lake Ontario ports. His " Modus Operandi" was "energy and enthusiasm". Always a pleasure to work with, organised, is an understatement, and in hindsight, I am not sure whether he applied "movie" logistics to the marine industry or vice versa.

It was around this time when Ratch found an interest in the Canadian Company of Master Mariners. He quickly established himself as an "anchor". I will again coin the phrase "energy and enthusiasm", it is most appropriate for this man. His efforts quickly found him as Divisional Master, and later National Master, all very well deserved!

Just prior to leaving his position with Robert Reford, we were in the port of Hamilton, Ontario, and he informed me of his decision to return to the west, he would work with BC Ferries, it was simple, he would also be close to the family! Partner, kids, little ones! Only to be applauded! He asked for a favour, could he take a picture of a friend?, Andrew Digby wasn't available, so he took mine!!

We missed him immediately from a work standpoint, I missed a friend!

Ratch's return to the region to work aboard the "Canadian Empress" was unexpected but very welcomed. We quickly renewed our friendship and carried on anew. He had found a suitable location in the 1000 Islands which allowed him the "leave time" he wished and needed, also not too far from a tavern or two!

During his last leave we  met at the local "Rockport Tavern" and enjoyed an hour or two of yarns, comradarie, and some beer! He was delighted as Canadian Company of Master Mariners, National Secretary, to have completed the numerous pages of minutes for the last meeting! Everything was packed and ready to roll Heading west to the family! Lots to do, of course! "energy and enthusiasm" . Only the company  "end of season " was going to delay the trip west. That was taking place at the end of the last voyage!

Lunchtime  on October 15th I spoke to Ratch, the "Empress" was at Chrysler Park, he was asking for traffic information, VTS was vague, I called him on his cell phone, he was concerned for the passengers  getting drenched with an incomming squall. He was directing staff to be their best and most helpful!. Ratch!! He  sailed downbound for Couteau Landing about 1300.

The night  of October 15th was a very dirty night, on the St Lawrence river, winds to 60 knots!

The "Canadian Empress" lay secured at  the berth at Couteau Landing. As the weather deteriorated Capt Ratch Wallace, observed, and assessed the worsening conditions, taking all necessary actions to safeguard ship, passengers, and crew. He was successful in this by his usual style" energy and enthusiasm"

Unfortunately he used it all!

We all share in his loss, as we all cherish his memory.

My condolences to his family

His friend Richard Winnel

October 28, 2011
It was always easy to spend time with Ratch. He was courageous in a special way to me. I will miss not sharing the planet with him.

Ratch Remembered by Brian Kenefick

October 27, 2011

 My wife Janice met Ratch when he took the Marine Cadet Course at Georgian College, he started the year after her, in the early 70s, they were at college together for a couple of years.


My introduction to Ratch was via ship’s telegram in 1979 when Ratch tracked us down to a ship that had been at anchor at the Shat-al-Arab between Iraq and Iran for 110 days. This was my introduction to Ratch’s determination and the efforts he was willing to put into all his activities, be they artistic or marine related. He was looking for information from Janice about a project he was working on.

In 1980 I was lucky enough to make Ratch’s acquaintance face to face when we moved to Toronto and he and Janice both worked on the Cayuga II going across the lake. I worked ashore while Janice continued to sail and Ratch made use of the services of my company to help keep the vessels running on time.

We moved to the east coast in 1982 and our contact with Ratch was spotty to say the least. When the marine industry (oil exploration & fishing) took a dive in 1990 we moved to Vancouver. Janice met Ratch through the Company of Master Mariners events.

 I was able to hook up with Ratch again when he moved out to work for BC Ferries and I managed the inspection of Canadian ships for Transport Canada – Marine. We would meet frequently for business during his time as a supervisor of repairs and so on.

After I retired he encouraged both Janice and I to write and for Janice to finish a book she had held in abeyance for many years. He was going to look at it for a possible film script. Amazing how he kept going with both sides of his interests.

My most memorable moment with Ratch was during a late night Toronto Island Cruise on the SS “Caledonia”. Ratch was the Captain, Janice was the Mate and I had gone on the cruise to check out their diesel generators. About midnight the three of us were on the bridge wing when a bunch of inebriated guests decided it was a good time to start tossing the tables and chairs off the boat deck into the lake. Ratch calmly walked over and got the old fashioned speaking trumpet out of its bracket. Leaning over the front of the bridge he used his actors projection and deepened his voice. “You”, he boomed out like the voice of God. They all stopped and looked furtively round and never once looked up. “Yes you, you arse-holes put those tables down”. The drunks took off without ever looking at us, good job because they would have seen the three of us hanging onto the dodger wetting our pants laughing.

 Ratch wherever you are I’m sure that the ale is flowing, the stories are being told and the laughter is ringing out. Save a place for me friend.

Brian Kenefick


Canada's Only Movie Star

October 26, 2011

I first met Ratch in the mid 60's together with Ian Thomson at the RCYC in Toronto.  Ratch was a budding actor keen to make his mark, and had just finished his first feature film.  He proudly billed himself at the time as Canada's only movie star - and that was the essence of Ratch, ebullient, positive, people focussed and such fun to be with.  We spent many years, sailing at the RCYC with Ed Lawless on Seneca and then Ratch found hinself with his Marine career and he was off to the West Coast.  I moved to New Zealand, and lost touch until an evening last year, when I was at the QCYC race night and there appeared Ratch, still larger then life, as irrepressible as ever and we caught a few yarns between us and let the years apart melt away.  My sympathies to Lissa and the family 

@ BC Ferries

October 24, 2011

I was very fortunate to meet and get to know Ratch while he was at BC Ferries. When Ratch "came ashore" to take a role in  Fleet Operations and Safety at Fleet House. As it has been said over and over again, meeting Ratch was a memorable event and once you met Ratch he never forgot you because he managed to get a nugget of your personal story from you that made you real in his life. His achievements reached far and wide. He literally touched the hearts of everyone he met. I loved listening to his Great Lakes Stories as I was born in Sarnia with fond memories of the ships sailing under the Bluewater Bridge. He and I had shared the love of the same pubs in Port Huron Michigan. I had also lived in Hamilton and Toronto before moving west and I was a huge movie lover with acting dreams from my youth and a huge fan of the Statford Festival and Toronto theatre scene. We had many warm chats.

Ratch was intelligent, kind and insightful. A true renaissance man. If one is lucky you meet someone like this at least once in your life, I was lucky to have met Ratch. I offer my prayers for the family and will hold my memories of Ratch close to my heart.

Kathleen Aslett, Mgr. Occupational Safety and Health

BC Ferries, Victoria, BC

From the nineties . . .

October 24, 2011

I first met Ratch "the agent" when our chemical tanker docked in Toronto in the early nineties. Ratch came onboard to take care of the formalities of arriving in Canada from a foreign port.  He quickly became a friend and took me ashore each time we returned to Toronto.  Our ways parted when I transferred off the the tanker I was serving on and didn't return to the Great Lakes.  It was a pleasant surprise to encounter him again 15 years later when I rode my motorcycle to Saltspring to confirm my assignment as a BC Ferries captain.  I was dumfounded to be interviewed by Ratch - I had no idea he was with the ferries.  We went out for lunch, talked about "the old days" and our love of motorcycles.  It was truly a pleasure to stay in touch with him until his retirement from the ferries.  Ratch's infectious smile and good humor made him a cherished friend to all who had the pleasure of meeting him.  Fair winds and calm seas old buddy.

October 23, 2011

I first met Ratch back east in the late eighties and we rapidly became good friends.  As happens,  with busy lives, we lost touch for a few years.  In 2000, having moved to Victoria, Ann and I were attending our daughter’s graduation at UVIC.  Sitting in the auditorium I received a tap on the shoulder and the person behind handed me a note which read “ Look back seven rows and three seats to your right”.  Lo and behold there sat Ratch with a beaming smile and a friendly wave.  He was attending Mercedes graduation.

Our common interest in the three ‘M’s (Master Mariners and Movies) was a great catalyst in the renewal of our friendship.   Ratch was a prime moving force within the Company of Master Mariners of Canada where his enthusiasm and organisational skills were invaluable.  In the past he had served as National Master and more recently had taken on the role of National Secretary.  He was extremely proud of the Company and his contribution will be greatly missed.

 Many of my favourite memories are of our movie nights which occurred two or three times a month.  Ratch would always choose the film.  When the movie was over we would sit through all the credits during which he would explain the duties of the ‘the grip’ and ‘the best boy’ as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the producers, directors and writers, many of whom he had worked with in the past.  Everyone else would have left the theatre and the cleaners would be waiting impatiently to prepare for the next show.  None of this phased Ratch in the least – we sat through the credits.

Ratch was a character once encountered never forgotten.  A friend was a friend for ever.  He was quick to include you in his circle and make you  part of his life.

Sadly ‘the credits’ of Ratch’s life rolled far too soon.  There was more to the story which now will never be told.  I will miss him dearly.

Our heartfelt condolences go to Lissa, Kate, Mercedes and all other family members.

Frank and Ann Nicol

Always a pleasure

October 22, 2011

Ratch was a regular friend while I worked at Wylie's restaurant in Toronto. His smiling face, and booming laughter were always a welcome addition to any evening. His stories were always captivating, and I had the pleasure of attending a gathering at his place where i had the please/misfortune of seeing some of his acting captured on VHS!

I am deeply saddened by his passing, but know that he left the world a better place than he found it by the the people's hearts he touched.

Truly a fantastic individual who lived a rich life that I had the honour of sharing moments with.

Be at peace my friend. Smooth sailing!


Rivercrest memories

October 22, 2011

As one of Ratch's childhood buddies on Rivercrest Rd, we learned, even at a young age, that it was too small a stage to hold him for long. Who would guess that his nickname would stick to him for life!

With intellectual parents who ran a well known (for the time) bookstore at King and Yonge, he became worldly at much younger age than the rest of us. I remember our trips to the Stratford festival packed into the back seat of his parents' Morris Minor on stifling hot July days dressed in our best suits. Presumably that was the genesis of his interest in acting.

By his late teens years, it was clear the usual pedestrian and parent approved trek through university would not be for him. I remember too his mother distraught after he turned down a scholarship to the National Theatre School. This was a pretty gutsy move in the early 60's.

However, he somehow already knew his eloquence and ebullient manner would always land him on his feet.

I'm so glad he found himself and made so many good friends along the way. That he was an inspiration to others and a great mariner in his other chosen field is a testament to his many talents.

Bon voyage captain



Ritchie in the '60s

October 22, 2011


I remember Ritchie at Lakefield as an irrepressibly cheerful character. We under-estimated him I think, maybe because we had already formed strong friendship groups by the time he arrived. 

He dropped by our house in Camberwell, in South London in the UK a few years after we had all left school, and had grown enormously in every way, not least in size. We had under-estimated Ritchie, who was now Ratch Wallace, actor and great Lakes steamer captain, dwarfing all our little ambitions, but friendly with it. 

A lovely man. Well done, Ratch, and sorry I was never able to swap sailing stories with you.


October 22, 2011

It seems a little poetic that Ratch "book ended" my racing career. He was a crew member aboard the 1904 Herreshoff schooner Seneca (I believe around 1970) when I first raced with an amazing old salt we called Capt'n Ed, and after many, many years out of touch, we crossed paths again at the pre-race party for the Swiftsure Race out of Victoria a few years ago, which turned out to be the last race I have been in.

I clearly remember Ratch being interviewed on the radio at a time when he captained the launch Kawasind for the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, a 10 minute crossing each way to Toronto Island. When asked if he enjoyed that job, he replied "a new landing every fifteen minutes, what more could a captain ask for?"

Another grand memory with Ratch is a long, wonderful evening with the legendary English sailor Robin Knox-Johnston closing Wally Magoo's bar at Harbourfront on Dwight Hamilton's tab. It doesn't get better than that.

A toast to Ratch -

"Here's to tall ships, here's to small ships, here's to all the ships at sea. But the best ships are friendships, here's to you and me."

Ratch on Galiano Island

October 21, 2011

This was such a joy to see this photograph. Ratch came to have lunch with Thomas and I at our home here, Cable Bay Farm on Galiano Island. Thomas being a fellow Captain with whom Ratch worked for years at BC Ferries. Ratch adored his motorcycle and was always such good company..... we will miss him

Love, Henny

Ratch on Galiano Island

October 21, 2011

This was such a joy to see this photograph. Ratch came to have lunch with Thomas and I at our home here, Cable Bay Farm on Galiano Island. Thomas being a fellow Captain with whom Ratch worked for years at BC Ferries. Ratch adored his motorcycle and was always such good company..... we will miss him

Love, Henny

from John and Debra Playfair

October 20, 2011

We were very saddened to learn of Ratch`s passing. Our thoughts are with you.

Ratch was truly a fine and memorable person. We were friends from about the age of 12 at Lakefield, where there were many good times. I remember him playing on many school teams, and, of course, starring larger than life in all of our school plays. While on a school break one time, Ratch took me down to Wallace`s Books on Young Street, where I had the opportunity to meet your very nice grandfather. He often talked affectionately about his parents over the years. Ratch was always proud of his time at the school and kept in touch with many of us.

I have forwarded your note to our Lakefield friends who will be as saddened as we are.

When we moved west in 2008, I was able to reconnect with Ratch and Lissa. Ratch kindly included us in his activities, and gave me good advice…and some expert instruction in operating our new boat. I always felt that in any difficult moment, Ratch was someone I could truly count on for genuine support and sound guidance. I will never forget him.

Yours sincerely,

John and Debra Playfair

From Susan King- long time friend

October 20, 2011


I have known Ratch since 1970.   There were two aspects to Ratch that he followed with dedication - sailing and film.  I watched him gain all his papers for sailing up to master of major waters.  I listened to him share his film-making experiences.  Both were lived profoundly.  All winter he would be involved in film and all summer he would sail - sailboats, ferries, cruise ships.  I admired him very much for his tenacity and skill at binding these two loves as the warp and weft of his life.  I know no one else who has done this as gracefully and well.  A Viking farewell to you, Ratch.

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