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Lifelines: Canada's East Coast Fisheries

The Lure of the River
Sport Fishing in New Brunswick
The Lure of the River: Sport Fishing in New Brunswick


By the mid-nineteenth century, the inland fishery was not just a food source but a leisure pursuit for residents to enjoy.

The growth of New Brunswick's population and industry by the 1840s resulted in a change of lifestyle for some of its residents. To that point, a survivalist mentality had prevailed and the province's natural resources were seen from a purely utilitarian point of view and were considered an inexhaustible source of sustenance. After 1840, continued immigration and development was encouraged, but outside commentators now extolled the virtues of New Brunswick's scenery as much as the value of its shipbuilding or lumber industries.

Maliseet Indian Wooden Hut Interior - 
New Brunswick Museum

Maliseet Indian Wooden Hut Interior (detail),
reproduction of original watercolour by Robert Petley, about 1850
(New Brunswick Museum, Webster Collection, W5943)

The inland or non-tidal fishery was a good example of this change. While many residents saw this resource primarily in terms of food, some began to take to the rivers and lakes as a recreational pursuit. Overfishing, especially with nets, continued and remained a problem into the twentieth century but the use of the rod and reel marked a shift in the way this resource was harvested. It suggested a world with more leisure time and, perhaps, the beginnings of an appreciation for fishing for its own sake.

One Day's Catch - 
New Brunswick Museum

One Day's Catch (detail),
reproduction of original acquatint by George S. Ferrier in Dean Sage, The Ristigouche and Its Salmon Fishing, Edinburgh, 1888
(New Brunswick Museum)



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