Article by - Powell River Living - May 2019
The funding the society receives from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is the same today as it was 37 years ago. “That’s why we have to focus on fundraising,” says Shane. Construction of the first PRSS hatchery got underway in 1981 with the building of the Duck Lake Facility. At the Mill, the first hatchery was built in 1986 – a trout hatchery – thanks to a small government grant.
The present mill hatchery was built in 2000 and the Alex Dobler Salmon Centre in 1993. “The infrastructure that the PRSS has developed is very unique. In some ways it’s comparable to a major government hatchery,” says Shane. The Alex Dobler Salmon Centre at Lang Creek is not a hatchery, but it’s the facility most people associate with the PRSS. Here, staff and volunteers assess stock, collect broodstock, do egg takes and provide many educational experiences.
A family legacy: like father, like son: Shane recalls his father Alex standing on the banks of Lang Creek, in the late 1980s, watching the fish coming in. At the time, the then-teenaged Shane volunteered at the salmon society. “I helped weld the first fish trap,” he says. “One of the reasons the Society could build the Lang Creek facility and salmon centre was because of the skills that Dad and Lee [Kimball] had, and their willingness to contribute their skills to the cause. That was the time of the greatest expansion in the history of the Powell River Salmon Society. Everything that we’ve been successful with since is because of what was done in that era.” Lee Kimball, who worked for the salmon society for five years and has volunteered ever since, was one of those talented guys who could turn his hand to anything and literally “fix a car with a bobby pin,” says Shane. “My Dad and Lee built the brood tanks and fishway at Lang Bay. Our fish rail is another innovative piece for lifting fish,” he adds.
The amount of work involved to create the Lang Creek facility is mind boggling, says Shane, looking back. “What we did with steel, machinery, excavation, pipelines and welding to build it. The fish were almost secondary then.” It was 1991 when Shane was first hired by the Salmon Society. “It was a temporary position as a fish technician and helper but even at 20, I could see this was a special time,” says Shane. “I was part of something bigger during that whole five-year period. It helped identify who I am, who I became,” he says. “It’s funny how fish have led me to people who have improved me in a lot of ways.” Now, nearly three decades later, Shane and his wife Holly are empty nesters. They’ve recently begun hosting international students, and he’s thrilled to share how much he loves what he does with them. “Many of them have never fished before,” says Shane. “They’re totally excited when they catch their first fish.”