Boys Will Be Boys: The Way It Used To Be

Following the memorial service for Ellen’s dad we headed to Qualicum Beach to visit with her sister, Diane and brother in law,  Pete. On the way we stopped in at Canvas Plus in Ladysmith, B.C. to pick up the prints that I will have on display at this year’s Art Walk in Lake Country. As with last year they did a great job.

While in Qualicum, I made an early morning visit to Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville. The tide was low and the beach seemed to stretch out forever. After making some images of beach textures and a few landscapes I drove to the government wharf at French Creek.

Fishing season is in full swing for commercial and recreational fisherman. It was very busy at the French Creek wharf. I love the colour and action as fishermen unload their catches while others clean their fish at the fish table. Gulls screech in frantic excitement as they clamour for castoff bits and pieces.

As I poked around the wharf I noticed a crowd gathering at the fish table so wandered over. A proud fisherman held up a 31 pound Chinook salmon. He was joined by another who sported a 19 pounder. As they cleaned their fish interest grew not only from other fishermen but from the gull population. Entrails and fins were washed down the sluice into the water below. In a screeching  frenzy gulls tried to snag  pieces  of the enticing smorgasbord.

But the basis of this story occurred on a return trip to the wharf two days later. Again, it centred on the fish table.

My focus was to capture action and colour around the fishing boats but the screeching and clamour of gulls near the fish table distracted me. Passing a fisherman carrying a huge salmon filet I headed in that direction.

Two boys, likely about 12 years old, were working at the fish table. Their bikes complete with backpacks and fishing rods were lying on the ground. They appeared to be cleaning a large salmon. Instead they were working on the remains of a fish left behind by a previous fisherman. I inquired about what they were up to. “Bait!” they exclaimed together. Obviously, they were on their way to their favourite fishing spot and needed bait for their hooks.

As we chatted they flung bits and pieces into the water to the great approval of the gulls and a lone otter who managed to grab a huge chunk before swimming to a safe haven under the wharf.

I was reminded of my childhood as I asked them a few questions. How wonderful it was to be able to ‘cruise’ my neighbourhood in Victoria when I was their age. Unsurpervised, me and my friends spent long summer days playing scrub softball, swimming at the old Crystal Pool or fishing off the end of the Breakwater. After a few daily chores and giving Mom a rough idea of where we would be we were off. The only stipulation, “Be on time for supper!”.

In today’s modern world with so many technical gadgets to grab our attention such stories seem few and far between. These boys on the wharf in French Creek in my opinion were living the dream.

This entry was posted in My Work, The Creative Process, Travel.


  1. Ron Mullins August 23, 2019 at 10:01 am #

    Another great story Stu.Thanks for sharing. All of us ‘of a certain age bracket’ understand and can recall many such events. For some of us…it was the ocean. For others…the bays and tributaries of the Ottawa River.

    • Stu Dale August 23, 2019 at 10:14 am #

      Thanks Ron! It is so heartening when I observe kids who have the opportunity to play in an unsupervised situation where they learn to get along and solve their own problems b

  2. Corol Pallan August 23, 2019 at 7:09 pm #

    “Be home in time for dinner”, the phrase our generation grew up with. Heart warming to know the young lads were enjoying nature and a bit of freedom in this careful world we now live in. Great photos that triggered some youthful fish cleaning memories.

    • Stu Dale August 23, 2019 at 7:13 pm #

      Yes that phrase still rings true. I am alway impressed when I see kids in this kind of play situation. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Dianne Birnie August 26, 2019 at 9:34 am #

    I really enjoy your blog! This one especially. My parents lived at Union Bay, not far from French Creek so we have spent many summers in the area and investigating other parts of the Island. Also, amazing photography! the reflections in the water in the one with the otter are very impressive. I enjoy going back to your photographs taken in the Okanagan. I would like to discuss one of your photographs with you and would like to know if you would contact me by email? Thanks.

    • Stu Dale August 26, 2019 at 4:24 pm #

      Thanks for your comments Dianne!French Creek is a wonderful part of the world. As a young man I worked for a land surveyor and we had jobs in the Fanny Bay area as well as on Hornby and Denman Islands. Love it there. I will contact you via email..

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *