This year, 2018, is the 40th anniversary of the establishment of a Chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada in Edmonton.
The executive is looking for suggestions on how best to recognize this event. We would appreciate hearing from you. Please give it some thought and post your ideas or pass them on to any member of the executive.
Also, with the help of Bill Robertson, a former president of the Chapter, we've been able to piece together a brief history (see below). Written records of the early days have not been found. We need your help with this too in providing any additional information you might have and pointing out any errors or omissions.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS CHAPTER OF TROUT UNLIMITED CANADA:
Trout Unlimited (TU) was founded on the banks of the Au Sable River near Grayling, Michigan in 1959 by a group of trout fishermen who were concerned about the State’s management of wild trout and the habitat in which they lived. Anglers in other States shared similar concerns and Chapters rapidly sprang up across the USA with a guiding principle, grounded in science, that if we "take care of the fish, then the fishing will take care of itself." www.tu.org/about-tu/history
In 1972 a group of seven Montreal flyfishers, recognizing the success that TU had achieved in the States in freshwater conservation, stream rehabilitation and habitat protection, met together and decided that similar action was need in Canada. That same year they founded Trout Unlimited Canada (TUC) and incorporate it as a not-for-profit organization. Two years later, TUC’s first Chapter, the Toronto Chapter, was formed.
Starting in 1976 Russell Thornberry, Jim McLennan and a few other Edmonton area fly fishers began to explore the possibility of setting up a local Chapter. In 1978, with advice and support from Leigh Perkins, then CEO of Orvis, they founded Trout Unlimited Edmonton, the first Chapter of TUC in Western Canada with Russ Thornberry as President and Barry White as Vice-President. The following year TUC Edmonton held a ‘Cold Water Anglers’ Conference’, the first of its kind in Western Canada, featuring many distinguished angling authorities including Lefty Kreh, Charles Brooks and Bob Scammell. The success of this conference led TUC Edmonton to hold a 2nd Conference with international speakers in 1984. This was one of the factors that prompted some Calgarians to form the Bow River Chapter soon followed by the Central Alberta, Oldman and Crowsnest Chapters.
Meanwhile, a group of local fly fishers, many of them members of TUC, began to meet regularly to share and demonstrate their common passion for the art of fly tying. In 1994 the “Northern Lights Fly Tyers Club” was founded by Roman Scharabun, Barry Wright, Terry Weyts, Bill Robertson, Dale Johnston, Brian Kemper, Ian Russell, Roy Ramdeen and Barry White. Although a few members advocated for affiliating with the international organization, “The Fly Dressers Guild”, the majority rejected this motion and opted to maintain the “Club’s” unique local club atmosphere. In March of 2002 the Membership adopted the additional tag of “Fishers” to further foster the atmosphere of a “Fishing Club.”. It henceforth became recognized as the NLFT&F (Northern Lights Fly Tyers & Fishers).
There was always a strong association between Northern Lights and the Edmonton Chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada. In the spring of 2010, a unanimous decision was made by both the TUC-Edmonton Chapter executive and the NLFT&F executive to merge the two clubs into one entity. Both clubs ratified the merger at the NLFT&F AGM in January, 2010. The combined organization became Northern Lights Fly Tyers – TUC Edmonton, a Trout Unlimited Canada Chapter. In recognition of its focus on all aspects of fly fishing, the membership voted to change the name to Northern Lights Fly Fishers – Trout Unlimited Edmonton in January, 2015. This was further amended to Northern Lights Fly Fishers – Trout Unlimited Canada Edmonton Chapter.
In 2018, in an effort to establish a common set of specific requirements and procedures among all Chapters of the organization, TUC Corporate requested all Chapters to enter into a revised affiliation agreement. This was approved by the Chapter membership on May 2, 2018. As part of this agreement the Chapter was renamed Trout Unlimited Canada – Northern Lights Fly Fishers Chapter.
Since its formation the Chapter has worked actively with the Alberta Conservation Association and others in carrying out a variety of conservation projects, particularly redd counts, streambank restoration and riparian protection on the Raven River system and an ongoing grayling research/monitoring project and stream work on the upper Pembina River for which the Chapter received a National Recreational Fisheries Award in 2014. The Chapter has also maintained its focus on education. Over the years it has presented public seminars with such distinguished anglers as Jack Dennis, AK Best, Brian Chan, Ed Engle, Dave Hughes, Skip Morris, Gary Borger, Dave and Emily Whitlock, Mike Lawson, Jim McLennan, Bob Scammell, Todd Oishi, Jim Schollmeyer, Rick Hafele, Hans Von Klinken, Jason Randall, April Vokey and Phil Rowley - many coming back for repeat performances. As a teaching group the Chapter has provided numerous fly-tying opportunities, especially to youth groups and has helped approximately 6,000 kids tie a ‘wooly bugger’ at the annual Edmonton Boat and Sportsmens’ Shows since 1996. Annual flyfishing classes are often sold out. Weekly meetings, open to anyone interested, frequently feature members and guests demonstrating fly tying, presenting on fly fishing strategies, locations and equipment, fisheries management topics, bear awareness and much more.
The Chapter is also well known to the Alberta Provincial Government for its input on and advocacy for recreational fishing opportunities, conservation and effective fisheries management. It has been represented on the provincial Fisheries Roundtable advisory group since its inception and currently sits on the provincial Fisheries Stakeholder Advisory Committee.
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