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The Way We Were

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the August 03, 2011 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Gatineau River fish rap landed in national dailies

The Way We Were
Cyril Payne fishing on Meech Creek, with his minnow catch. Payne came to the Gatineau Valley from England as a "home child". He spent the rest of his life here, marrying into the pioneering Cross family, and working on the first crew of the former Alcan plant at Farm Point. (1940)   Photo courtesy of Gatineau Valley Historical Society.

Foreword by Louise Schwartz

Fishing has long been a popular pastime in Canada. Not surprisingly, many anglers have been lured to the Gatineau Valley lakes and rivers, with their abundance and variety of fish. Here is a selection of fish-related stories from the past, some edited for length.

The Times (Ottawa) of January 19, 1867
We have just learned that it is the intention of a scientific gentleman of this city to introduce the breeding of salmon by artificial means in the Gatineau River. This subject has of late obtained much attention in several countries of Europe.

In the celestial empire, the collection and sale of fish spawn is a regular branch of trade, followed by thousands of people. We are informed that the gentleman who has resolved upon an experiment in the Gatineau, has already made arrangements for a supply of salmon ova, and we trust others will be found to follow his example.

The Morning Leader (Regina) of September 21, 1917
Following the prorogation of Parliament, Sir Robert Borden in company with Speaker Edgar Nelson Rhodes will leave at once for a fishing trip up the Gatineau River. They expect to return to the capital in about ten days.

The Evening Citizen of June 4, 1943
Not a record breaker by any means, but perhaps the largest pickerel of the season fell to the lure of O.J. "Nick" Carter of Ottawa, earlier in the week. Nick took a 9 1/2 pound pickerel from the Gatineau River near Farm Point. Oddly enough, although the fish stuck at first cast, Nick wasn't able to get another nibble the whole time he was there.

Returning from a trip further into the Gatineau, Carter remembered that he and his father had enjoyed considerable success at this spot close to twenty years ago. The urge to stop and throw a minnow into the river was too much for Mr. Carter. Thus he found himself casting into the memories of those years gone by, passing before his mind's eye.

The pleasant picture was rudely interrupted by a vicious tug on his line and when he reeled 'er in, imagine the pleasure on seeing a beauty of more than 30 inches in length and weighing close to ten pounds in weight.

The Ottawa Citizen September 7, 1946
(Ed. note: This is a short excerpt from a column by James Cameron, who used this anecdote as one of three examples to illustrate his point.)

Anyone who has worked for any length of time as a reporter must have stored in his mind some interesting stories which for one reason or another were never written. Often reporters are required to listen to long-winded stories from persons who conclude their stories with "and, of course, I don't want my name mentioned". In many cases the request utterly destroys the news value of a good story.

Consider the story about the lady who has a pet fish in the Gatineau River. Since the lady involved was away at her summer residence on the Gatineau River, the reporter called the business address of her husband.

"Pardon me," the reporter said when the husband answered, "but does your wife have a pet fish in the Gatineau River?"

"Who told you?" the husband asked, his very question verifying the authenticity of the story.

The reporter went on to ask for details. Was it a bass, a pike, a pickerel; how many years has it returned to visit his wife; what did she feed it?

Hubby hedged. "I better talk to my wife before I answer questions. I'll phone back tomorrow and let you know."

Next day, the reporter was called to the phone. It was the husband. "She doesn't want her name to appear in the paper."

The Evening Citizen of June 9, 1958
This isn't just another fish story. This one is factual. It is all about a 17-pound, 31-inch catfish which towed boat and fisherman about 100 yards downstream on the Gatineau River. John Arnott, a thirteen-year-old boy caught the fish near here on Friday. The young fisherman played his catch but was unable to land him. And here he was, being dragged by a catfish.

A passerby noticed the boy's plight and called in one of the area's best-known fisherman, C.D. Chamberlin, who came to the rescue with a landing net.

Fish, boat and boy were then brought to shore. The young fisherman is the son of Betty Arnott, a nurse on the staff of the Gatineau Memorial Hospital.


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