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ISLAND HISTORY: Kaua‘i harbor master ‘Captain Jack’ Bertrand

Born in Colorado, Kaua‘i Harbormaster John “Captain Jack” Bertrand (1891-1971) ran away from home in Nova Scotia at the age of 12 or 14 to follow the sea as a deckhand and mess boy aboard fishing schooners and cargo vessels plying the Newfoundland banks off Nova Scotia.

By 1910, he was serving a four-year hitch in the U. S. Navy, after which he joined the Merchant Marine, where he advanced to master.

Shipping out to China in 1919, Bertrand made an unscheduled stop in Honolulu for an emergency appendectomy and returned a few months later to serve as mate and skipper on Inter-Island Steam Navigation Co. ships.

In 1923, following the completion of a three-month contract he’d signed to help rebuild the Ahukini breakwater for Lihue Plantation Co., he became port captain of Ahukini Terminal &Railway Co. and made his home in Ahukini.

Looking back, we see that during the 1890s Ahukini had become the first port on Kaua‘i where inter-island vessels could tie up directly to shore, when a small concrete pier and a short breakwater were built on the south side of Hanama‘ulu Bay.

The original eight plantation houses of Ahukini Camp out of an eventual total of 42 were also constructed by Lihu‘e Plantation about that time.

Jack’s company, the Ahukini Terminal &Railway Co., was organized in 1921 to operate a freight railroad linking the Ahukini terminal with sugar plantations in the Lihu‘e, Kawaihau and Kilauea districts, and the Hawaiian Canneries pineapple company in Kapa‘a.

Ahukini’s port operations shut down in 1950, yet excess sugar from the sugar-storage plant at Niumalu was stored temporarily in two warehouses at Ahukini until 1965, the year Ahukini Camp was razed.

Captain Jack was also the manager of Kaua‘i Consolidated Terminals Ltd. (in which he oversaw the operations of the port of Nawiliwili and Port Allen).

Active in community affairs, Jack Bertrand held many public offices, including a term on the county Board of Supervisors (1948-1950) and the Territorial House of Representatives (1956-1958).

Bertrand and his wife, Marie Rapozo Bertrand, had twin sons, John and William.
Source: The Garden Island

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