Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sports Center Saturday: Salmon Fishing in British Columbia

My father Maurice loved to fish. The earliest memories I have of him and his favorite sport go back to the mid-1960s when I was 6 or 7 years old. I can still see Dad cleaning his latest catch, doré (pickerel), in our backyard. I don’t know where he went fishing on that occasion, but it probably wasn’t too far from our home in Timmins, Ontario.

Maurice Belair with a BC salmon

I think Dad’s first opportunity to fish for salmon was during his vacation to British Columbia about 1965. He came to visit his only brother Ray, who moved to B.C. in the early 1950s. The above picture shows Dad proudly showing off the salmon he caught that summer.

After we moved to British Columbia in 1979, Dad had many opportunities to fish. On his days’ off from trucking, he’d take his favorite rod, walk to the river’s edge (our house on Willow Street was only three or four blocks from the Fraser River), and find himself what he’d hope would be a good spot. Unfortunately, Dad never caught a salmon here. In the winter, he liked to ice fish in nearby Kawkawa Lake, about a mile east of Hope. He’d wake early, make a thermos of coffee, load up his gear, and drive to the lake to meet his buddies. He wasn’t always successful, but when he did reel in a little fish or two, he proudly came home to give Mom his catch of the day.

Maurice Belair and Albert Desgroseilliers with a BC salmon

This picture, taken in July 1989, shows Dad with Mom’s cousin Albert Desgroseilliers. They went fishing in Albert’s boat in Porlier Pass, located between Valdes and Galiano Islands, near Vancouver Island. Dad kept his “Tidal Water Sport Fishing Licence” (which cost him $3.50), on which he recorded that he caught a Chinook salmon that day.

A year later, Albert invited my parents and my husband and I for a weekend at his home near Vancouver. We arrived Friday afternoon, had a BBQ supper, and then spent the evening talking with Albert and his wife Rosa. Mom reminisced with her cousin (their fathers were brothers), while I asked questions about Albert’s family to add to my genealogy files. The next morning, Albert (who has quite a sense of humor) made bacon and eggs for breakfast. Michael, who was an ocean-fishing newbie, didn’t realize he shouldn’t eat such a hearty meal and felt ill during the hour-long ride on choppy waters. Dad and Albert were ok, but Michael soon lost his breakfast. The day wasn’t a total disappointment, though; the trio eventually caught a salmon.

Dad fished until the last year of his life. In June 1995, he paid $5.35 for an annual “British Columbia Non Tidal Angling Licence”, above. The “Conservation Surcharge Stamp” that appears on the licence (lower left corner) indicates that he paid the required fee that allowed him to keep a caught salmon. Try as he might, my father never managed to catch the elusive Fraser River salmon.

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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