Fishing to keep out of trouble

~ Shannon Hedquist, daughter of Commercial Fisherman, Brian Hedquist

When my father, Brian Hedquist, graduated from high school in Prince Rupert he, like many others in his class, had two choices for a career, commercial fishing or working in the mill. He chose fishing and that weaved the tapestry of our lives for all of my childhood.

I can’t imagine a childhood without that boat, it is what has given me a profound love for the coast that I could never leave.

When I was born, my Dad was on a fishing trip up in Alaska. He first saw me days after I was born from the boat while my Mom held me in her arms on the dock with my sister and brother at her side. My Dad had to clear customs before he could leave the boat. I have many fond memories from when I was a very young child of docks and boats. My Dad was the rock star, the Captain of his own boat, our boat, and I couldn’t be more proud of him. In my eyes, he was the strongest, bravest and best fisherman who ever lived.

​In my early teen years, fishing became a family affair. My Mom, Dad, Uncle, Brother and I would spend summers out on the West Coast 2 weeks at a time on our 48’ Troller The Rennell Sound. Somehow my sister didn’t have to do this jail term in her teen years. When I look back at how different we were back then I get why. For me, I am sure commercial fishing saved me from a whole heap of trouble. Perhaps my parents saw that in me.

4:30 am came the tolling of Big Ben, how I hated that alarm clock! My mom would put the coffee on and Dad and Uncle would wake and pull up the anchor and head out to the fishing grounds. My brother and I would have maybe another 2 or 3 hours to sleep, if we were lucky, before the sound of the first fish slapping into the checker. Pulling the oilskins on, wrapping the bands around my boots and wristers snug over my gloves, I would step out into the fresh salt air to start my day of washing and counting pink salmon, sockeye and spring. It would be a year or two before I graduated to cleaning fish and on the rare occasion, and only when it was slow, did I get to pull up the gear. At the end of the day we would run back to a safe anchor point, have dinner and go to bed.

Some of my best memories of my time on the boat, and there are many, are the quiet times at night listening to the clanging of the rigging against the mast. Or sitting for hours with my Dad or Uncle in the wheelhouse while we ran up or down the coast to a more fertile fishing ground. I can’t imagine a childhood without that boat, it is what has given me a profound love for the coast that I could never leave.

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