Sigurdson Island

“Sigurdson Island “ at the mouth of the Berens River, was a magical place for a young boy. As a little guy in the early 50’s each summer we would “Go North” to join Dad at the station for summer fishing. Sigurdson Fisheries had a long association with the community. My great grandfather had first started to fish there in 1895,The small granite island was a perfect place for a fish station, close to the fishing grounds, a constant breeze keeping the flies away, and the buildings cool in the summer sun.It would take me about 15 minutes to charge around the island.  A mossy slimy margin ringed its shoreline and made it an unwitting trap for any kid who got to close, and found himself/ herself thrashing haplessly to be a grip to climb up. My cousin, Helen Kristjanson, (no doubt known to many in Gimli), narrowly escaped her demise as she was pulled all but drowned from the water as a young child, rescued by the divine intervention of some nurses from the mission hospital who happened to be on the island visiting that very day. Not surprisingly learning to swim was a priority. I would play with my indigenous buddies whose families had set up tents on the Island so the men were closer to the fishing grounds. We would bang nails on the front step then graduate to nailing fish boxes. The sheds with the men working and bringing in the fish were an endless source of fascination. Endless hours were spent catching perch with a string tied to a  bent needle, thriving under the fresh morsels falling from the sheds below to the water, and getting in trouble darting around on the boats. The entrance to the mouth of the magnificent Berens River was about ½ mile. When I was allowed to take a skiff on my own, probably around 10 or 11, I would zoom past the iconic Log Cabin Inn, where Ma Kemp reigned as Queen, and then The Hudson Bay Post where the Kenora pulled in twice a week. I had one overriding goal –  to get in the line for the ice cream sold on the main deck to every kid in the settlement who could get there before the purser closed shop. It was a special place as alive in my memory as it was when I lived through those years. The early pictures dating to 1952 were taken and shared with me by a young research biologist, later a dentist at Dryden by the name of Gordon Smith with a Zeiss lens and impeccable negatives that he prized all those years later.