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Fishing and hunting in Canada

By: Bob Cudmore

Date: 2017-09-16

Fishing and hunting in Canada
By Bob Cudmore, Focus on History, Daily Gazette, 09-16-17

Carpet manufacturers Stephen, John and Laddie Sanford of Amsterdam loved their horse farm in the town of Amsterdam. Other Mohawk Valley movers and shakers didn’t race horses but did go a great distance in the 1900s, over 350 miles, to fish, hunt and enjoy the outdoors.

Founded in 1906, the Bourbonnais-Kiamika Hunting and Fishing Club of Canada had a large Amsterdam area contingent.

The men of the club included industrialists, merchants, lawyers, doctors and the publishers of Amsterdam’s Recorder newspaper. There also were club members from Johnstown, Schenectady, Albany, Troy, New England, Kansas and Canada.

According to a newspaper account, the club leased about 200 square miles of territory in Labelle County in Quebec.

New York State Comptroller Charles Gaus of Albany died of natural causes on a club excursion in 1909. Gaus’s family had unsuccessfully argued against him making the journey which then required a forty mile wagon trip from the nearest railroad link.

An unnamed club member who could not attend the 1913 outing in Canada because of business wrote a lament printed in the Recorder, “There are fewer days in my life that I can recall with greater happiness than those spent on the annual hunts on our old camp ground. The exciting sport, the complete relaxation from all business and domestic cares, the jolly fellowship, the excitement and exhilaration, the killing of the game and the landing of the trout, the sense of freedom, the odor of the virgin forests, the beautiful scenery, the calm lakes, the picturesque streams, gliding down these little rivers in our canoes over the small rapids.

“Sitting here at my desk, apparently bound down by the chase for the mighty dollar. I can still picture to myself all the attractions, beauties and joyous feelings of those happy days.”

That same year Conover’s book store window in Amsterdam displayed two trophy Canadian gray trout, one caught by broom manufacturer Charles L. Howard of Fort Hunter.

During an outing the next year at Lake Simon in Quebec, club members caught 447 gray trout and 75 brook trout.

A 1920 newspaper account finds the club meeting at the Ten Eyck Hotel in Albany. A new clubhouse was being built on Little Long Lake at a cost of $1,100.

Six doctors escaped serious injuries in 1954 when their railway car, nicknamed The Kalamazoo, jumped the tracks of a private railway as the party was coming home from a fishing trip. The physicians were Edward Bogdan, George Ferguson, Leonard McGuigan and Charles K. Tomlinson of Amsterdam, along with John Butkus of Broadalbin and John Sponoble of Johnstown. A switch had been thrown to a position that caused the derailment and sabotage was suspected.

Several Amsterdam Polish Americans were club members after World War II including boat shop owner Ted Pikul, pharmacist Ambrose Krupsak (whose daughter Mary Anne Krupsak became New York Lieutenant Governor) and Fred Partyka.

Tom Pikul, Ted Pikul’s son, said his father “wasn’t a full member but went often as a guest.”

Tom went to the reserve twice with his father, once, he said, while the club was in operation, “At the main lodge at Lac du Sourd (Deaf Man’s Lake) they had a windowless ice house that was built under the trees (for the shade) a bit down the hill from the imposing camp building toward the lake, in which the big chunky blocks were stored under a thick pile of damp sawdust. The smell was fascinating—the pine sawdust smelled of resin in the cool humid air. Unforgettable.”

The most recent newspaper account of a Bourbonnais-Kiamika Hunting and Fishing Club meeting was in 1972 according to an online search. Today the land is part of a Quebec provincial park called Papineau-Labelle.

Tom Pikul (accompanied by his son Simon) joined Ted Pikul in another Canadian fishing trip when his father celebrated his eightieth birthday.

They tried to find the club’s old lodge but couldn’t. They did catch some trout. Tom said, “As we were coming in, we spotted one humungous snapper on the bottom just off the bank. I nudged him with the oar and he slowly paddled off (Ha! Ha!).”

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Pasted below is Tom Pikul’s full email to me on fishing in Canada with his father, Ted Pikul, who operated a boat shop in Amsterdam. Tom is a Park Hill Amsterdam native. He and his wife Catherine split their time between their Amsterdam home (the Pikul family residence where Tom grew up) and their home in Couches, Burgundy, France:

Did I show you my father’s pictures of some trips with all the fish & game they hauled in?? There’s also a bit of 8mm footage that includes their train which they called “the Kalamazoo”. My dad wasn’t a full member but went often as a guest. I think we talked about this at one point.

I went twice, the first time with my father, Fred Partyka senior & junior (now II), & Jimmy Campbell who passed away at about 63. Philippe, a Native American, was our guide & paddled us about in a birch bark canoe the gunwales of which were about three inches above the waterline! He portaged it with Rick & me (on foot, not in the canoe!) to Bogdan Lake which is what the members dubbed it. Philippe smoked a lot, rolling his own. His English was quite broken. I don’t know how he broke it or why he couldn’t fix it. During the portage he said, “Lungs no pump.” At lunch he asked us, “want Cocola? I hooked into a nice red trout but he blew the netting!

By the camp, my father missed a huge walleye, or at least that’s what he said since he’d gone out in the rowboat alone. The famous “one that got away”? We all caught a bunch of both & brought them home in boxes of dry ice. I remember going to Quant’s in Amsterdam where they had small freezer compartments they would rent to stock the customers’ fish & game. At the main lodge at Lac du Sourd {Deaf Man’s Lake) they had a windowless ice house that was built under the trees (for the shade) a bit down the hill from the imposing camp building toward the lake, in which the big chunky blocks sawed out of the lake were stored under a thick pile of damp pine sawdust that smelled pungent from its resin content in the cool humid air. Unforgettable.

The second time I was there was to celebrate my father Ted’s 80th birthday. Simon (Tom and Catherine’s son) went with us. I have a picture of him looking up at a road sign indicating the road to Lac Simon. Wonder who he was. Our Simon was nine. Oh, yeah. You may have noticed the lake trout mount on the staircase landing of The Lookout at 1/4th. (Tom’s home in Amsterdam) Dad got that one at the “Barb & A” many a moon ago. I came across a great picture of him with it recently. I had it (the fish, not the picture) restored along with a 6-point buck head by the taxidermist just north of Caroga Lake. He (Ted Pikul) shot that one at Perkin’s Clearing on Int. Paper land just NW of Speculator.

Just checked for Papineau-Labelle on the net. The park was created in 1971 & is termed a Reserve Faunique for fish & game, not a preserve, so you can still hunt & fish there. It consists of 1,628 square kilometers (402,287.561 acres, or about 1/12 of the Adirondack Park) & has 763 lakes & forty-two rivers & streams.

The land the Singer Corporation had subleased to the Bourbonnais has been acquired by the provincial (I think) government for a huge park, Papineau-Labelle.

We rented a campsite on “Golden Blossom Pond”. They explained that they limited the amount of people that could fish it & that early each morning they had the campers draw numbers from a hat if there were too many people. Unfortunately, we weren’t among them & when Simon saw that, he began to cry! We had a canoe on the Voyager & told the agent we wouldn’t need to pay the rental fee for the provided rowboat, but they said even if we used our canoe, we’d still have to pay for theirs! Result: our canoe travelled about 600 miles without ever having been taken down off the roof rack of the Voyager! Guess the Quebecois still have some Gallic traits!

The next day we ended up going to the big lake--they did let us use a boat there--but the fish knew we were coming & hid. We tried to find the lodge but didn’t. They probably demolished it like they did the Adirondack forever wild ranger cabins. We did catch a coupla nice trout on the pond the next day. As we were coming in, we spotted one humungous snapper on the bottom just off the bank. I nudged him with the oar & he slowly paddled off (Ha! Ha!),

Tom Pikul