Bernie Anderson and Leila Gmeiner had big expectations in the Spring of 1978. For the past two years, they had been homesteading in the wilderness of Toba Inlet, British Columbia. Then a friend offered them the use of his fishing boat. They had to make the monthly payments to the bank of course, but any profits beyond that were theirs to keep. Nobody could foresee they would be catching English Fish & Chips.
There are more than more 40 names on the Cortes Island Museum’s list of fishermen from the 1970’s. Some were wives, who worked alongside their husbands. Others may have been deckhands. The names of 28 boats are given, though not how many were working in any given year. Now there are two.1 In this week’s radio program (podcast below), the owner of one of those 28 fish boats describes close to four decades of gillnetting in British Columbia.