by Calvin Kania, president and CEO, Fur Canada, May 17, 2018
As a teenager growing up in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia, trapping with my father in the high country was exciting and fun. He taught me to respect the animals we trapped because they gave their lives for our livelihood. For him, it wasn’t how many he caught, but how he caught them and in particular how humanely he could do so. He felt there had to be better methods of trapping and better tools than were on the market.
While Dad pursued his dream of making a better mouse trap, I was more inclined to pursue the next marten or muskrat. I loved marten-trapping because we did it in the high alpine country. It was always a struggle to get there in January, with the steep inclines of the logging roads and the fresh powder snow, but it was worth it – pristine country, brisk, fresh, pure white and untouched, under a clear blue sky. We would find a big ole spruce or hemlock tree with the boughs drooping down to create shelter from the five feet of snow that lay around, then under the tree we’d build a fire and make a pot of tea.
But make no mistake, trapping in the high country is anything but easy. As you will hear in the tale I’m about to tell, it requires perseverance and stubborness.
Summer hiking in the high country of the Selkirk Mountains in the mid-1970s.
Dad takes the lead, while our friend and fellow trapper Vern Varney brings up the rear.
One Sunday in the summer of 1974, when I was 15, my parents and I headed up Airy Creek, a pristine area we had not trapped for five years, for berry picking and a fish fry. Picking berries has always been one of Mum’s favourite things, and along the way her eagle eyes were hard at work. “Stop the truck,” she cried. “I see some huckleberries!”
Now a few years earlier, she’d wanted to pick wild strawberries and dragged me along to help because that’s what kids were for in those days. Do you have any idea how small wild strawberries are? About the size of a small button on my golf shirt. So imagine how long it took to fill an ice cream pale. All day. So when Mum got excited about picking those huckleberries on her own, we stopped the truck right away. “Yep, no problem Mum! Way you go! See you later!”
Dad and I then ventured on up the old logging road until we came to a spot where a bridge used to be. The timber company had not logged here since 1970, so they hadn’t kept up with road and bridge maintenance. Most logging roads in British Columbia are “de-activated” if the logging company is not intending to log the area again for some time, and with the total loss of this bridge, you could definitely say it was de-activated. The creeks here are not that big to traverse, but big enough to keep our truck and snowmobiles out when there’s no bridge. Anyway, Dad decided if we were going to trap into the head end of Airy Creek, we needed to find a way to cross it come winter time.
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