Bill McGuire, photographed for a 2005 article published with the headline ‘Mr. Bathtub.’ NEWS BULLETIN file photo

Longtime Nanaimo bathtub commodore Bill McGuire dies

‘Mr. Bathtub’ was involved in the sport and community event since its beginnings

He ensured the sport of bathtub racing thrived for 50 years, but now he’s gone and it’s up to others in Nanaimo to keep tubbing strong.

Bill McGuire, former longtime commodore of the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society, died on Saturday. He was in his mid-70s.

“It is with heavy hearts today we mourn the loss of past commodore, friend and mentor Bill McGuire. Bill’s dedication and commitment to our community and our tubbers will never be forgotten,” noted a social media post Sunday on the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society’s Facebook page.

Greg Peacock, current bathtub society commodore, said “from what I understand, it was peaceful.”

John Ruttan, former Nanaimo mayor and another former bathtub society commodore, said it was sudden, as he received a bathtub-related e-mail from McGuire just three days before.

McGuire was involved with bathtubbing since he was a participant in the inaugural race in 1967 with what he described as “a comic entry.”

The second year, however, McGuire, despite having almost no boating experience, made it all the way to Vancouver, reaching the beach in 21st place.

“He used to say with kind of a wry smile that he was frightened for most of the trip and would have turned around, except he felt he would have flipped over, so he kept going whether he wanted to or not,” Ruttan said

McGuire would go on serve two stretches as commodore, most recently from 1997 to 2017. The sport evolved over the years, from tipsy bathtubs attached to makeshift rafts to the super-modified speed-tubs that are capable of setting new world records in the strait.

“I think everybody is surprised, myself included, that it’s gone on for 50 years,” McGuire told the News Bulletin leading up to the race’s 50th anniversary in 2017.

Peacock said McGuire saw bathtubbing as a team-building, community-building, family event.

“If it wasn’t for that kind of commitment and dedication to it, we probably wouldn’t be bathtub racing still,” Peacock said. “He was there right from the beginning and right to the end.”

McGuire graduated high school in Nanaimo. He was a car salesman – for a time he worked for Jack Harris – and then ended up having a long career in real estate with Royal LePage Nanaimo Realty. Aside from tubbing, he was also involved with the Serauxmen service club. Last year he was co-winner, along with fellow bathtubbing volunteer Margaret Johnson, of the Michael Rhode Memorial Award, recognizing longtime commitment to the sport of bathtubbing, at the Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards.

“He was a wonderful guy. I think the world of him,” said Ruttan. “He was one of those people that you meet from time to time – he was seldom really angry with anyone, I never heard him ever utter a bad word about anyone. He was just a really decent, nice guy, well-liked, had many, many friends … He brought people to him.”

McGuire is survived by wife Gail – whom he married on a bathtub weekend – son Ken and two grandsons.

There will be an informal gathering and salute to McGuire at the Frank Ney Memorial Polar Bear Swim on Boxing Day, Dec. 26, at Departure Bay Beach. Registration for the swim starts at 11:30 a.m. with the dip in the bay at 1 p.m.

A service for McGuire will be announced at a later date.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Massive early-morning blaze destroys unoccupied Nanoose Bay home

Firefighters from three departments called in to battle fire

Captain Dziadyk to end season with Oceanside Generals on high note

Qualicum Beach player is longest-serving player in team history

Petition underway to stop bylaw on homeless camping in Regional District of Nanaimo

‘Canadians are known for their meekness but this time we need to have a voice’

Qualicum Beach approves Pheasant Glen zoning amendment

Majority of residents who spoke at public hearing endorsed proposed amendment bylaw

Centre withdraws from cell tower project in Qualicum Beach

TELUS plans to continue to look at plans to improve cellphone reception in the area

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

First win, fifth win highlight BC Senior Curling finals

Donna Mychaluk wins first title after finishing second five times; Wes Craig takes fifth crown

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

BC Senior Curling titles to be decided in Vernon

Wes Craig, Penny Shantz looking for fifth championships; Steve Wright, Donna Mychaluk into finals

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Most Read