Fishing in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec
in the good old days

Painting by Ruth McMillan in 1976
Shows the Head of the Rideau Canal Locks in Ottawa, Canada in 1893

My son, Scott, fishing in the mid-1980's.

Left photograph at Rock Lake in Algonquin Park                                                                Right Photograph in Renfrew County

Rock Lake, Algonquin Park  Scott catches 9 pound Lake Trout in Renfrew County

June 30, 2008:

This web page will explore the history of fishing in the Ottawa area -- on the Ottawa and
Rideau River systems, the Rideau Lakes, and Calabogie and Renfrew County area. I spent
many years fishing with an uncle who was born in 1903. He had lots of experience gained 
from fishing with his dad and grandfather (born about 1845). Send in your fishing stories,
even true ones, from the early days.

Photo Source: Birchbark Canoe, by David Gidmark, page 89. This book describes some of the great birch bark canoe builders in the Maniwaki area. Some of the famous First Nations canoe builders from our area were members of the Commanda, Carle, and Cayer families. William Commanda is the finest canoe builder of the 20th century according to Mr. Gidmark's book. See also the historical development of the birch bark canoe. Fishing from canoes near Maniwaki, 1920's
Photo Source (below):On a Sunday Afternoon -- Classic Boats on the Rideau Canal, page 15 Fishing the Rideau River, south of Ottawa, Canada
Arthur Jones, Longtime Lock Master at Smith Falls. preparing to go lake trout fishing on the Big Rideau Lake, near Murphy's Point. We used the big "banjo reels" which held about 500 feet of copper line. Copper line was replaced in the 1960's by steel "monel" line, then later by lead core line, colour coded every thirty feet. Now downriggers are the most common method of fishing deep water in this area. Photo Source (below):On a Sunday Afternoon -- Classic Boats on the Rideau Canal, page 46 Arthur Jones, Lockmaster at Smiths Falls

The following map was created before 1862. Not surprisingly, it has some errors. For example, the point shown as protruding on the north side of Long Island towards Turnip Island, is under 90 feet of water and is one of the hotspots for Lake Trout fishing.
Map Source: McGill University Digital Map Collection
Big Rideau Lake, Ontario, Canada
August 18, 2009:
Where the Walleye hang out in Calabogie Lake August 2009 Crab Island, Calabogie Lake, Ontario, Canada

February 14, 2010:
In 1898, the Bass season opened in the month of June. Tackle was available from the Butterworth Store at 197 Sparks Street, Ottawa. Source: Ottawa Citizen, June 18, 1898 Butterorth Fishing Tackle Store, Ottawa, Canada, 1898

February 21, 2010: Here's a co-incidence (and not a fish story!) Garry Burns is my first cousin and best friend of many, many years. At the time this photo was taken, he was living in the Ottawa area. Taylor Kennedy is my best friend in the world of Genealogy (along with Michael Daley). Taylor lives in the Toronto area. Taylor and Garry had never met, until this fishing trip with some of the Brazeau family at their camp in the Stonecliffe area of the Upper Ottawa River. The Brazeau family were pioneers in the Nepean neighbourhood and I had run across their name often while researching my ancestors. A few months after the following picture was taken, Taylor e-mailed a copy of it to me. No way I could figure out what the heck my cousin Garry was doing fishing with Dennis Brazeau and Taylor Kennedy. After about seven generations in Canada, three early Ottawa area families had re-connected. Our Great Great Grandparents had probably known each other. Small world! Taylor Kennedy is descended from William Kennedy who came from County Tipperary, Ireland and settled at Jockvale (now part of Barrhaven). Garry Burns and I are both descended from Lawrence Burns who worked on the construction of the Rideau Canal in the late 1820's.
Garry Burns and Dennis Brazeau on the Upper Ottawa River Life is good! Fishing on the Upper Ottawa River

March 8, 2010: Watch a You Tube video of Daryl Gilbert fishing on the Ottawa River, near Petawawa. And here is a slide show of a couple of guys spending a relaxing time fishing on the Ottawa River. The Ottawa River is still a Muskie Factory. We are approaching the time of year when we can get out on the water again. Send us your pictures (old or recent) and we'll post them on this page. Videos, also. ... Al

March 10, 2010:
Catch trout, maybe see a moose, bear or cat. Just between Stonecliffe and Mattawa, south about a mile into the bush. I think it is Burritt Road. ... Taylor Kennedy Speckled Trout Creek in Renfrew County, Ontario, Canada

April 4, 2010: The time has come. Brook Trout / Speckled Trout season should be open now in Eastern Ontario. Check the annual regulations to verify this and to find out about daily catch limits. Also, you need a Sport Fishing Licence available at many hardware stores and most places where they sell Fishing Tackle (Canadian Tire Stores, for example). The following are some of the best Speckled Trout lakes in our area all within about an hours drive of Ottawa. The listing below shows the number of Speckled Trout stocked in individual lakes in the year 1977. Also given are the GPS locations of the lakes and the number of fished stocked in 1977. These are the prime lakes where the fishery is managed because of the excellent water quality. These lakes are stocked every year. ... Al Fish Stocking List, 1977 Speckled Trout Lakes, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada See also, Taylor Kennedy's web page for the Madawaska River System. Nice maps and photographs.
December 9, 2010:
A Traditional Shore Lunch Drawing Source: Hunting and Fishing in Canada - A Turn-of-the-Century Treasury, page 133 Article written by "Misty", August 1888, Artist's name looks like Dearden or Deardell ? Shore Lunch

October 5, 2011:
Federal Department of Finance Fishing Trip, 1975 Our base camp was at Jocko's Cabins on Calabogie Lake Get rid of the suit and get out the flannel. Photo Credit: Lorne (behind the camera) Federal Budgets were always produced in February of the year. After the Budget, as soon as the lakes were open, we made our getaway for a week. Budget secrecy was always a major concern. In order to fool the press, we usually shipped the documents out using the trucks owned by "Budget Rent-a-Truck". Last place anyone would look, a truck with the word "BUDGET" painted on the side! Got a million of 'em. Left to Right: Brian, Charlie, David, Al, Chris and Jim 1975 Fishing Trip to Calabogie Lake, Renfrew County, Ontario, Canada

April 1, 2016: We lost a tremendous man, gentleman and friend. Mr. John Jocko from Calabogie Lake, Renfrew County, passed away yesterday. R.I.P. Mr. Jocko. He was my inspiration for my inspiration in First Nations History.
Obituary for Mr. John Jocko, Calabogie Lake, Renfrew County, Ontario, Canada Source: Ottawa Citizen, April 1, 2016.
... Al
February 17, 2020:
Lucius O'Brien, Painting Fishing Party Returning Home Lucius O'Brien, Painting Label Painting Source: Painting in Canada: A History, by Russell Harper, page 239

New October 18, 2020: This 1845 map is from Sir William Logan's survey of the Ottawa River. It is from the book William E. Logan's 1845 Survey of the Upper Ottawa Valley, by Charles H. Smith and Ian Dyck, 2007, Canadian Museum of Civilization, ISBN 978-0-660-19662-6, page 112. Thi picture is at the Muskrat River at Pembroke, Ontario. I don't believe that anyone fishes for eels any more!
Fishing for eels, 1845, Muskrat River at Pembroke

E-mail Al Lewis
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