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Lifelines: Canada's East Coast Fisheries

The Lure of the River
Sport Fishing in New Brunswick
The Sportsman's Code
The Lure of the River: Sport Fishing in New Brunswick


The angling aristocracy seeks to enforce a code which benefits both the salmon stocks and their own interests.

The British, Canadian and, especially, the American sportsmen were generally welcomed to the rivers of New Brunswick by the government and the local population. They brought money and employment to regions of the province sorely in need of both and were willing to pay top dollar for grants of land with fishing rights. Sensing a bonanza, the provincial government enacted legislation in 1884 which leased choice fishing waters on all ungranted Crown Land at auction and specified that only the rod and reel could be used as a method of harvest.

The First Cast - 
New Brunswick Museum

The First Cast,
from an etching signed "H.E. Sandham", probably mid-1880s, from The Ristigouche and Its Salmon Fishing, Edinburgh, 1888
(New Brunswick Museum)

This was the problem. By encouraging both the federal and provincial governments to protect the salmon resource through such instruments as closed fishing seasons, private wardens and fish hatcheries, the traditional methods of harvest, spearing and netting, were strictly policed. While the concerns of conservationists were served by this policy, a source of livelihood for aboriginals and settlers was actively discouraged. Resentment soon grew.

Excerpt from the 1896 report of the 
Provincial Fishery Commissioner - New Brunswick Museum

Excerpt from the 1896 report of the Provincial Fishery Commissioner
in which the effects of federal legislation on netting are examined. From Journals of the House of Assembly of the Province of New Brunswick, Fredericton, 1897
(New Brunswick Museum)

Emptying Salmon Nets by Torchlight - 
New Brunswick Museum

Emptying Salmon Nets by Torchlight,
from a wood engraving signed "Karst" in Picturesque Canada, The Country As It Was and Is, George Munro Grant, ed., Toronto, 1882
(New Brunswick Museum)



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