When we took down the old “Hilton” to replace it with a new staff building, we found some old cannery records from 1940 to 1945 which had be shoved into a wall, presumably for insulation against the cold and damp of a Rivers Inlet winter. So, we sent them to our friend and talented writer Bruce MacDonald who spread the papers out in the little cabin behind his house that he used as an office.
One day his young nephew came over to visit. Bruce was showing him the old papers and lamenting having no way of finding out about the many people mentioned in the records. Suddenly, his nephew said, “Good Hope? That’s where gramma grew up.” And so began our relationship with Marea Larsen the dearest woman ever! You will see her picture everywhere around here.
Over the years we got to know Gary Stanton from Marysville, Washington, who was always up at the head end of the Inlet. A smile and wave became the occasional hello across the transom and later a fairly regular exchange of fishing updates and strategies.
One day Luke (then quite young) fought a fish for almost an hour and then lost it. Tears. (Luke takes this all very seriously.) A few hours later Gary drifts by with a fish “on” and hands the rod over to Luke who lands it.
Many thanks (and wine) were given to Gary who became like a hero to us – not for the fish but for the lesson in kindness.
One day, the ultimate invitation is extended by Gary: “Luke would you like to fish with me tomorrow?” Love to…and sure enough Luke hooks up and brings a bright 30 lb female to the side of the boat. Gary says: “Now Luke, do you want to keep her?” Luke says: “Maybe we should let her go?” “Up to you, she’s your fish”. “What would you do?” “Well Luke, I’d let her go. Let’s get a picture and let her go.” “Ok, lets.”
Luke and his big brother Gage released five more magnificent Chinook that summer up at the Head. Holding those fish by the tail until they were ready to go on their own made the experience even better. We are so grateful to Gary for his friendship and the lessons in conservation and that he has allowed us to name our stewardship and catch and release program after him.
We now release all Chinook caught in the Inlet, support the work of Sid Keay (and his Team at Duncanby) in partnership with the good people at the Pacific Salmon Foundation, and mostly of course, the Wuikinuxv Nation itself in all that they do for the Percy Walkus Hatchery.