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Pocket Change

Time 0:02:45


From its creation out of Lake Agassiz to today, Lake Winnipeg has long been generous to those who understood its opportunity. lt has been a supplier of food to my family and other peoples from lceland who settled along its shores. Lake Winnipeg also provided the spark that ignited generations of entrepreneurs, regardless of their age.

My brother Robert and I spent a good deal of time playing by the lake. As our family earned a living from the lake, it was natural for us to want to fish. I remember especially one Spring in the '40s when we were about 10 and 12 years old. While still years too young to go out setting and lifting nets with the men, we weren't too young to catch the entrepreneurial spirit from the lake. We had approached my uncle Siborg who had an old skiff that he kept at Miller's Creek and we persuaded him to let us use it.

We set out rowing at six in the morning on a beautiful spring day. Fishing was good and we did not get caught by the Fish lnspectors. We took the catch home and I can honestly say that is where Bob got his start on the way to being the greatest fish filleter on Lake Winnipeg. We had an old scale and we balanced a pound of butter on one side and a pound of fish on the other. We wrapped the catch in copies of the Tribune. We went out each weekend that summer and were rewarded with a steady clientele.

It was a kid's dream - virtually limitless demand for our product and as for our cost of production: nets - free; boat - free; license: what license? Each weekend we sold the pickerel for 23 cents a pound and with the cost of a movie at 18 cents and a Coke for 7 cents, we had a great time. At the end of the summer Robert purchased some new clothes and I owned a brand new C.C.M. bike.

Our father was an entrepreneur in his own right and he admired our initiative. Nevertheless, the fledgling filleter and the young salesman needed to learn an important lesson about the business of fishing. A few weeks into our venture he took us aside and said simply, "The sweet smell of your success is being overshadowed by the odour of fish trimmings not properly disposed of". As bad as cleaning up that mess was, it could not diminish the magic of that summer. More than 60 years later nothing has changed - I still love to sell and my brother is still fishing the lake. He has a better boat though.

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