Fishing With Gramps

The time spent with gramps was never about catching fish—it was about making memories.

Fishing with grampsPhoto: Courtesy of Gary Graham

While I pride myself on being from the small town of Cochrane, Ontario, the reality is I’ve spent the majority of my life as a city boy in Ottawa. That being said, my fondest memories as a boy are the days my gramps took me out fishing on the beautiful and abundant lakes of northern Ontario.

In all those years that he took me out fishing on his hard-earned weekends, we never caught a fish. We did however sing songs, test out how fast his 5-hp outboard motor could go and practise our stone-skipping skills with rocks I stored in my pockets. I have no idea why we never caught anything—Gramps always claimed we had his bad luck to blame.

The best memories of those trips were the endless questions I had for him and his ability to satisfy them. During this time together, I not only learned the art of fishing but also what his life was like when he was young, the games he played with his siblings and how they sat around the radio. I also learned how much he regretted missing out on doing things with his own kids because he was working.

Sadly, my gramps passed away in April 2014, but my sown, William, who was born in May 2014, is named after him.

One summer morning in 2015, I sat out on a dock on Lake Dalhousie, an hour outside of Ottawa, with my then-three-year-old daughter Brynn. We were sharing a tiny push-button Dora the Explorer fishing rod (William wasn’t old enough to go fishing yet). One a normal day, the only thing that could make Brynn sit still for a minute was a television or the straps of her car seat. But this day was different.We sat out there with our legs dangling over the water for a long time. We sang songs, threw rocks and took turns casting and reeling as I answered a million questions. In lieu of a hook, Brynn’s fishing rod had a plastic star tied to the end of the line—we caught nothing but memories.

Thanks, Gramps. I look forward to many years of my own “bad luck.”

Next: Reflections on Red Deer River

Popular Videos