Manitoulin Streams’ Jackets and Jeans fundraiser goes swimmingly

Manitoulin Streams coordinator Seija Deschenes and Master of Ceremonies John Diebolt try out the big rubber “Punk Duck” from Rylan’s Clothing.

LITTLE CURRENT—The 2018 Manitoulin Streams Jackets and Jeans fundraising event brought together great people, great food and plenty of great laughs to create a near picture perfect evening—and judging by the dollar amounts being bid on the items up for sale, the evening was an outstanding event from the fundraising point of view as well.

As is the norm at such events the chair of Manitoulin Streams Ted Williamson heaped tremendous praise on the staff and volunteers, sponsors and fellow travellers in the quest to revitalize Manitoulin Island’s waterways, as did Manitoulin Streams coordinator Seija Deschenes, but there were three families singled out for special attention this year, those of the trifecta of the “Norton’s Creek Family Connection” the Dawes, Hutton and Fields families.

“Do you know those people that put their heart and soul into a community? They spend countless hours on something they believe in and don’t want to be recognized, in any capacity, for the work they have done. Well, tonight we’re going to recognize them! The Hutton, Fields and Dawes Families are some of the people responsible for making Norton’s Creek one of the prettiest creeks on Manitoulin,” noted Ms. Deschenes. “The story of Norton’s Creek begins in the 1920s with Beman and Bertie Dawes. Avid fly-fisher-people, Beman and Bertie purchased the lands surrounding Norton’s Creek to develop a trout stream. Over the years, they hosted many fishing expeditions with friends on the creek. After they passed away the property was kept in the family but not used in the same manner.”

“In 2008, the late Bob Hutton, and his wife Jean, approached the Dawes family, inquiring about purchasing the property and rehabilitating it. The Dawes felt that this was a good decision, as the property would be renewed in the late Beman and Bertie Dawes’ vision and they would still be able to enjoy it. Bob remembered fishing the creek for brook trout when he was a youngster and wanted to bring it back as a fishery and brook trout habitat. With connections to Manitoulin Streams—Delmer Fields is a board member and brother-in-law to Bob Hutton—Bob and Jean approached us to help with rehabilitating the creek.

“The first step was to keep livestock out of the creek by building a fence. Then, to enhance fish habitat, large boulders were strategically placed in the creek, dead trees were moved to the edge of the creek and hundreds of live trees were planted. The next step was to introduce ‘eyed’ brook trout eggs into the creek. At the annual eyed egg event in December, 10,000 eggs are placed in Norton’s Creek with help from local organizations and 100-plus school kids. Les Fields and her team of crock pots and home baked Christmas cookies feed the cold and hungry mouths—a heroic endeavor! What began in 2008 has culminated in over 75,000 eggs being put in Norton’s Creek and over 1,000 students and volunteers participating.

“When Bob passed in 2013, the work didn’t stop on Norton’s Creek. The Hutton and Fields families, and other community groups, continued putting the eyed eggs in the water, planting trees and making sure the fish have passage up the creek. In 2015 they continued to give back to the community and honour Bob Hutton by building an outdoor classroom in his name. It’s at this classroom where people can see the wood carving, completed by Delmer Fields, depicting the life cycle of a brook trout; where students can sit on a stone and listen to the creek while they learn; where teachers can show their students different aspects of the aquatic habitat; and where anyone can come out, take a seat in the shade and enjoy the fruits of the Dawes-Hutton-Family vision.

“We can’t thank you enough for the vision you had and the work you’ve done to make that vision a reality,” she concluded. “We are honoured and humbled that you chose and continue to choose Manitoulin Streams to help you with your vision. Thank you.”

As a concrete expression of Manitoulin Steams’ gratitude, Chair Williamson carried in a large tree, fittingly a red maple, that will be planted in memoriam of Bob Hutton.

Sisters Jean Hutton and Les Fields thanked the organization for the recognition of their work on behalf of Manitoulin Streams and the fitting tribute to Bob Hutton.

Following a delicious buffet style meal that included both roast beef and salmon entry choices, things got down to business with the live and silent auctions taking place.

Auctioneer Scott Rudolph was ably assisted in lightening the wallets of those in attendance by board member Brian Ramakko, Margo Charbonneau (who did stints as a very credible Vanna White stand-in) and Ms. Deschenes, while Master of Ceremonies John Diebolt kept up an entertaining banter in between.