From THE DAILY TIMES-JOURNAL, MONDAY MAY 19, 1924
“The Charm of freshwater,
The Charm of mirror-like surfaces
…and the sweet smell of the woods”
- Victoria Hayward
Like a flower escaped from a garden is the fish-net found in inland Canada. Nets belong to the sea, to the sea-mists of the Atlantic shores and the salmon-runs of the Pacific. What are they doing inland, out of habitat, “fish out of water,” as it were?
But when you chance upon the “inland net” of the Indian, wound around a crude wheel whittled out of saplings, something inside, some inner sense, speaks out saying: “This is the original. The Seacoast nets of America came here long after this! These threads, these meshes – they run back, back, back to the Garden-of-Eden-time of this continent.” And recent discoveries of fossil-skeletons are placing that period back much further than the 20,000 years to which we had become accustomed even if we couldn’t understand or comprehend it.
The nets of Nipigon need no aid from men in order to write themselves as belonging in that class of simple things which appeal to the heart. When we happen on one of them in some clearing, its gossamer length thrown about the old wheel’s throat it speaks to us with the same human touch as of some bright shawl.
What a vist of a world of the wild and free, it conjures up. The “Twine” as inanimate written on the the page of the Government’s “Indian Allowance” becomes a thing of life, when you happen upon it changed by the handiwork of the Indian into one of these inland nets. Nets of a lightness of quality to compliment the frailty and mobility of the dainty canoe which is the hyper-sensitive fishboat of the world of Inland lakes and rive(r)s.
Like some lace veil is this Old…Inland…Net!
You feel you might take it in hand and run it through a finger ring. Compared with it, how crude seems the coarse strength of tanned lengths that is the herring-trap of the Atlantic coast. How rude and strong and thick gunwale and heavy timbers, the long oar-sweeps’ of fishboats that work the herring nets! These are fine paintings, jealously hung in an inner room… not many of them …rare. Those others, in the beauty of their strength, are the sculpture in the gallery of Canadian handiwork. There is no question of superiority only an interesting and very entertaining one of difference. Sometimes we are in the mood for the sculpture, for the strength of the sea; and nothing can satiate this hunger when it is upon us, but the way of the Maritime…East or West.
But these inland nets that stand for Canadian lakes and rivers, those wonderful water highways, or mere bridle paths, and canoe-trails of water, have their own charm… the charm of freshwater, the charm of mirror-like surfaces, the charm of the deep peace and the sweet smell of the woods.
What sort of world’s work, someone murmurs, can be accomplished of these toy nets… more like feminine draperies than tools of an industry?
These filigree meshes wound about this old , weathered skeleton of a reel do not purport to be a Blue-Book of immensity and range of the freshwater fisheries of Canada… and they are immense… so much as a point-finger of the hundreds of miles of lakes and rivers opened up to sportsmen following the beckoning of … “the nets of Nipigon.” - Victoria Hayward.
This article by Victoria Hayward was headed by side-by-side- photos of fly fishermen on the river and an insert of a sketch of a net reel. Newspaper scans turn out pretty weird so I am leaving them out.
In another eight years this article will be one hundred years old. The newspaper it came from is in quite good condition considering it was in a Cameron Falls closet. Cameron Falls was the first Dam (1920) on the Nipigon River and the community homes moved down to the Nipigon townsite circa 1973.
What would be interesting is if any of these delicate nets are still around in 2016?