Sunday, 5 March 2017

Saanich Inlet - Fishing With Bill

Your recent articles bring back fond memories of Saanich Inlet. I was born to Victoria parents in 1941 that had a tie to a Major Sinclair. As I recall it, my grandfather and father would visit him and I would tag along. At the Major’s house, a youngster was left to his own devices, as the adults discussed and conversed with the Major who was both deaf and blind due to injures from both the BOER WAR and WW1. It was fascinating to watch them touch the Major’s hand and fingers creating an alphabet that spelled out the questions. Often the Major would complete the question mid sentence and the answers came quickly. This was fascinating for awhile, but the stronger pull was to tour the Major’s house which was filled with artifacts from both wars and beyond. There were lances, swords, muskets, armour, art work in huge numbers and was a fascinating place to visit as a youngster.

It also turned out that the Major owned 17 acres off West Saanich Rd. close to Willis Point and across from Bamberton. The property had a house at the road site, but a long interesting dirt road wound it’s way down to the beach where there was a log cabin and boat house. If the weather was dry, there was no issue getting the car down and back up from the log cabin, but if the ground was wet, getting back up was an adventure. Terrain was steep and the roadway had a couple of bumps that made passengers get out of the car and push the car thru the humps.

The fishing experiences came from a row boat housed in the boat house. Davits at high tide dropped the boat into the water and beach moorage allowed us to push the boat into the Inlet. Initial fishing trips necessitated the cutting of branches from trees that were wedged between the gunwale and floor of the row boat that were used to attach hand lines with Willow Leaf lake trolls and worms as bait. Fishing was so good that we used 2oz. and 4 oz. sinkers and no net to harvest more than enough fish to feed my dad’s family of 6 brothers and sisters plus my 3 brothers.

The row boat put on a lot of miles. Many times we crossed the inlet and rowed most mornings along the shore line north to Coles Bay and back. A morning’s catch often exceeded a dozen grilse which we cooked on an open fire grate built on top of a rock collection. Breakfast was always exciting as Dad or an Uncle would prepare pancake mix and the fry pan on the grate was used to flip the half cooked pancake up into the air with a “sometimes” successful entry back into the pan to cook the other side. Unfortunately, life changed for us when the Major passed on in the early 50’s, and the property was sold, but the family was committed to stay on the Inlet somewhere and eventually found their own property on Madrona Drive near Deep Cove which we still use to this day.

Dad is now 100+ and fortunately has a great memory. Hopefully I’ve described life for us on the Inlet. I will close with, NO, the row boat is long dead, although it did accompany us to the Madrona site, but families grew, earning capacity grew, which allowed us to move to an assortment of boats. An inboard Briggs and Stratton was in Pokey and a ski boat, sailboat, became part of the scene as Dad and two of his brothers where the owners of the property and still are today. Thanks for allowing me to share my share my family’s life on the Inlet with you.


Bill Gower

Biography for Bill Gower

Bill’s career has been, and still is, in the sport fishing industry. Please note that in this and other posts on this site, I make minimal editing: for length, spelling and where grammar changes aid reader understanding. I leave the flavour of the original author:

Born in Victoria in 1941. Schools: Kingston St., South Park in James Bay and on to Vic Central and Vic High graduating in 1959. Worked retail in Victoria and Van thru 1964. Started as a rep in the golf/ski/clothing industry back in 1964 working for an agency that represented Campbell Golf out of Ontario. Interesting that they made Arnold Palmer and Gary Player products under license and had famous Canadian Moe Norman under contract. SOOOO many stories. Winter was Hart, Kneissel Skis and ass’t accessories and clothing was S.E. Woods, famous for commercial wool wear, parkas, and sleeping bags. A lot of the bags were made for extreme cold and mining purchased a lot of them to explore the Yukon and N.W.T., leaving them behind due to weight factors when returning south.

S.E. Woods did regional production out of a place near V.G.H. using a chap by the name of IRV DAVIES. This name is important, as Irv and I left the agency at the same time, with Irv developing a product called a floater coat which ended up as a brand called Mustang. My change was not so dramatic although a bit historical in that Daiwa Canada came into existence in 1967 with Don Ellis as president. Don also had an agency that marketed Algonquin Fishing Tackle, Algonquin Marine Accessories and Grew Boats. I was fortunate to take this over due to Don’s conflicts and sold these products from 1967-1978.

Daiwa made a bid to purchase Algonquin because they spooled and sold Stren Line out of their Canadian operations based in Toronto. This left me out in the cold and fortunately I was given a lead to contact Normark Canada. They hired me and I contacted Plano Molding for representation and found out that Normark was affiliated with Blue Fox. Looking for more companies to work with, Gibbs under George Whatly, hired me for the prairies and Washington and Oregon, and Scott Plastics hired me for the prairies. Both of these companies made changes 3 years later and I was fortunate to replace Gibbs with Lucky Strike Bait Works out of Peterborough.

Other manufacturers came and went, (the lot of being a rep salesman) but my relationship with the fishing industry is now 50 years old as Normark (now Rapala) and Lucky Strike is still represented by us. Us, is now Steve Gower, Kyle Bryan and myself, with Steve joining me in the early 90’s and Kyle is now in his 3rd year. We cover from Thunder Bay to Victoria with Steve based in Calgary and Kyle working out of our local office. A lot of people ask me about retiring, and my answer is why? As long as I am contributing and healthy, it is too much to ask as business relationships have become personal, and the stories and characters of the road would be missed.

I was part of the original directors of S.F.I. [Sport Fishing Institute] when it was established in B.C. and was a director with the Canadian Professional Sales Association for a number of years. Former President of the Sunshine Hills Tennis Club with personal interest in golf, tennis, and of course fishing. Re fishing, have visited most of the coastal fishing places from Victoria to Langara, but world travel opportunities have found me at Lake Ocochobee in Florida along with Ft. Lauderdale area fisheries, Mexico, Finland, Australia (with the Sydney Opera House in the background), Tasmania to name others. Within Canada, I think the only provinces missing are the extreme north. Not sure what’s next, but one thing for sure is that an annual trip to Pt. Renfrew is a constant.

Married with wife Jo-Ann, son Steve, daughters Christy, Lindsay and Jill and 5 blessed grandchildren.

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