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

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.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read