LITTLE CURRENT—April 9 marked one of the highlights on the local conservation calendar and also an event popular with The Expositor journalistic staff: the annual Little Current Fish and Game Club’s Wild Game Dinner. This year the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 177 Hall was packed to the brim with club members as supporters from across the Island and beyond, all eagerly awaiting the setting of the buffet with local fish, venison sausages, moose burgers and a host of other delectable fruits of the waters and forests of the North.
Club president Bill Strain found himself in the unaccustomed role of centre of attention at this year’s dinner as the club celebrated the prestigious Larry Wallace Memorial Volunteer Award conferred upon Mr. Strain by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) at their annual general meeting and Fish and Wildlife Conference held on March 14.
“We are very proud of our president,” said club member Marcel Gauthier, who along with club member Jim Griffin had spearheaded the drive to nominate Mr. Strain for the award.
“We are honoured to be able to be here to help celebrate Bill and all of the work that the Little Current Fish and Game Club and its volunteers do for our community,” said Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin in his remarks. “Thank you for all that you do for our communities.”
Mr. Strain’s remarks following the accolades, which included certificates from the Northeast Town, Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes and Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha, characteristically downplayed his own importance and the role in the programs for which he was recognized.
“It always amazes me, the number of people who show up to do the work,” said Mr. Strain. “There are so many members who have worked tirelessly over the years to help make our programs a success.”
Mr. Strain was lauded by founding club member and renown fiddling barber Doug Hore of Honora Bay who recalled the days when Mr. Strain guided fishermen to the east of Little Current while Mr. Hore guided groups to the west. “Bill has done a wonderful job over the years,” said Mr. Hore.
“Any chance I can get a free haircut out of this,” quipped Mr. Strain. “Well, maybe half price,” retorted Mr. Hore.
Mr. Gauthier noted that the nominators had attempted to gain the award for Mr. Strain last year, but were unsuccessful. “This year we decided to send in colour pictures and were successful,” he laughed. Mr. Gauthier noted that the award conferred upon Mr. Strain is a highly sought-after accolade by conservation groups across the province.
Mr. Strain’s wife Linda was also recognized at the dinner. “The first words out of Bill’s mouth are always ‘I couldn’t do this without my wife Linda’,” noted Mr. Hore.
Mr. Strain also recognized a number of honoured guests in attendance at the dinner, including Seija Deschenes of Manitoulin Streams, Jeff Horula and Kyle Wood, conservation officers with the Ministry of Natural Resources on Manitoulin, former MNR biologist Bob Florean, Ted Williamson, chair of Manitoulin Streams, and Rolly Frapier, president of United Walleye.
“I want to give special thanks to Gary Elliott,” said Mr. Strain, who pointed out that Mr. Elliott has been preparing food for the dinner for 28 years.
Mr. Strain also gave special recognition to founding club members Mr. Hore and Ron Bowerman.
The contribution of fishing rods and reels by the Canadian National Sportsman Association for the Little Current Fish and Game Club’s annual school education program was also recognized along with this year’s augmentation of the program through a generous donation by Brian Ramakko and Ramakko’s Outdoor Adventure Store of Sudbury.
“The rods and reels that we got through Brian are of a really high quality,” explained Mr. Strain. “They made it possible for us to expand our program to two extra schools this year.”
“It was really a pleasure,” said Mr. Ramakko. “It is an excellent program and we are proud to have been able to play a role in expanding the program this year.”
The club’s new membership chair was also introduced, retired OPP officer Gord Bickell. “If anyone is looking to sign up to be part of this excellent group of people, just give Gord a call and he will fix you right up,” said Mr. Strain.
The club also recognized the contribution of Duke Madahbee of Aundeck Omni Kaning in running a playoff hockey pool to raise funds for the club. “It is really difficult for us to run it,” explained Mr. Strain. “We have to get all kinds of licences and things, but it is a little easier for the First Nations.” Some of the $10 squares were still available as of this writing.
A number of door prizes were handed out at the dinner and the winners comprised a virtual who’s who of local conservationists. Among the lucky ladies were Ursula Paxton, Laurie Stillwaugh, Catherine Basset, Donna Wucsinic and Manuella Elliott. The winning men included Jim Machum, Jeff Kuula, Ralph Batman, Rick Gjos, Sean St. Pierre, Tom Lalonde, Jack Ferguson and Rob Paxton.
Winner of the toonie draw for a painting by a local artist was Pat Julig, while Ron Bowerman topped our the prize list with handy cooler pack.